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Albums Of The Week: Portugal. The Man | Chris Black Changed My Life

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Chris Black Changed My Life is Portugal. The Man’s first album since the release of their platinum-certified 2017 release Woodstock. The album is dedicated to the band’s late friend and honourary band member, Chris Black. The band teamed up with collaborators Paul Williams (John Lennon, David Bowie, Mac Miller), Sean Leon (Justin Bieber, Kanye West), Black Thought (The Roots), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (David Bowie, Gorillaz), Jeff Bhasker (Beyonce, Harry Styles, SZA, Mark Ronson) and Natalia Lafourcade (Miguel, Raphael) on the highly anticipated album.

Released nearly a year ago, What, Me Worry? marked the first official release from the band’s long-awaited ninth studio album. The driving single was accompanied by a cinematic video starring the band and directed by Los Güeyes (Aaron Brown and Josué Rivas).

The band returned in early March with the infectious single Dummy, which arrived with a video directed by Noel Paul and starring the band’s new honourary member, Tank Dog. “Worried about the impending nuclear war?” asks bandmember John Gourley. “Dummy is an ode to The Cure. For all those hopeless doomers out there waxing poetic on the end times while dancing to Boys Don’t Cry. All my troubles seem so far away.”

Those troubles included a physical ailment that impacted the album in various ways, he says. “Over the past few years, I developed a jaw problem where I was in constant pain and could barely eat. I was not sure I would ever sing again — so when we started (recording the song) Plastic Island, I was still recovering, and you can hear that I was basically singing through my teeth, because my jaw couldn’t handle it.”

Champ incorporates a re-imagining of Grammy-winning musician Edgar Winter’s 1971 hit Dying to Live while Summer of Luv, featuring Unknown Mortal Orchestra, was complemented by an animated companion visual featuring Tank Dog and directed by Andrew Ralph. “When we originally sat down to write Summer Of Luv, we intended to make this heavy song with a big riff but the vocals came out chill because I was still recovering from my jaw problems, we realized it sat better in this space. The song turned out totally different than we intended.”

Of the track Thunderdome (W.T.A.), Gourley says: “While I was waiting to see if / when my jaw was ever going to heal, it felt like there was either way too much time to reflect, while there was not nearly enough time to do the things I wanted to do with my music, so I began to really sink into other people’s stories and their favorite playlists. Something that really had a huge impact was a playlist that Josue Foto made me, and a song that absolutely shined that I kept coming back to was Hasta la Raiz by Natalia Lafourcade. A haunting melody sung by a voice with so much power and expressiveness. Of course, Natalia is huge, but to me it was brand new. I listened to it non-stop.

“Flash forward a bit, and we’re down at sonic ranch with Jeff Bhasker, making the rounds, and hanging with Adanowsky. And he’s introducing us to everybody. So many people coming in and out of the room, as we’re working in Studio A, and then he introduces me to Natalia. As the night goes on, we start pulling up tracks; who’s working on what, who’s collaborating with who, and then I hear Hasta la Raiz, and I put it together. Oh my god, you’re Natalia Lafourcade! This song changed my life!

“We asked, we begged to get Natalia on a track, and when it all came together, it was magic. She has a once-in-a-generation voice, and every time i hear it, it still reminds me of how important it is to listen to your friends favorite music, and to surround yourself with people who have great taste, especially if they’re sharing stuff you’ve never heard. It just might change your life.”

On the inspiration behind What, Me Worry?, Gourley shares: “While recording this album and hanging in L.A., we got into a conversation with Jeff Bhasker and Ryan Tedder about how much we missed laughter. The last few years it’s been so easy to forget the fun in what we do. We talked about childhood memories of laughing at the world and ourselves while flipping through Mad Magazine. We missed those days and remembered that we all make music. So we took that afternoon to make a song about it.”

Over the past decade, Portugal. The Man have established themselves as one of rock’s most prized possessions and a live phenomenon, with over 1,600 shows under their belts and a storied reputation as festival favorites.

Originally heralding from Alaska, the Portland-based band soared to new heights in 2017 with the release of their platinum album Woodstock. The album was marked by the astounding success of their infectious single Feel It Still, which earned the group a plethora of new accolades — including a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, a seven-times-platinum certification, a record setting 20-week residency at No. 1 on alternative radio, and an inescapable presence on the Top 40 airwaves.”