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Preview: Portugal. The Man 

Noah Bonaparte Pais on Wasilla, Alaska's other famous export

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Rock musician is among the few employments on the planet for which greater professionalism can represent a step backward. Portugal. The Man took a definite step with 2009's The Satanic Satanist, the direction of which is up for debate. Wasilla, Alaska's other export (the band now operates out of Portland, Ore.) traded eccentricity for consistency on its fourth LP, smoothing out the dramatic peaks and valleys of previous records by blunting their sharpest edges. The improved musical syntax came at the expense of a limited melodic vocabulary: Songs hooked and transitioned well because they all became variations on a theme (more often than not, Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger"). After an acoustic redo (The Majestic Majesty) and studio recluse (American Ghetto), 2011 release In the Mountain In the Cloud — the band's first for Atlantic — has the conflicted task of preserving the beloved quirks of a brand while marketing it to the masses. Lustrous hits "So American" and "Senseless," with their fussy strings, fuzzy solos and sing-along summits, nail down the latter but endanger the former. "I'm just a shadow of a bigger man," howler John Gourley begins "All Your Light (Times Like These)." It's the shadow of a smaller band that looms larger. The Lonely Forest opens. Tickets $20. — Noah Bonaparte Pais


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