For 17 years, the Portugal quartet The Gift has been operating without a boss. Sans management or labels, they’ve grown famous in their home country and Spain by recording in their converted garage. Arguably, they’ve built a small empire around their high-drama, English-language anthemic indie rock — garnering sponsorships, opening for the likes of Flaming Lips in the US, and becoming the “first Portuguese band to X” — X being everything (like getting a spot on MTV UK). At the moment, they’re promoting their new album Explode, which hit number 1 on Portuguese sales charts.
It’s been a long road to number 1, but six albums and a full calendar of live shows didn’t kill them. If anything, their sound expanded from their late 90s electropop smash hits like “OK! Do You Want Something Simple” to positive, emotionally gripping rock tunes like the Oh No Ono-esque “Made For You” off Explode. Oddly, they ditched the frills of their former albums — like entire orchestras and countless guest musicians — yet the sound got bigger.