Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop) 

Blitzen Trapper is a fascinating band. After five albums, the Portland, Ore., group seems unlikely to reinvent the wheel—yet upon closer inspection, the band's hybrid of folk-glam-pop is remarkably fresh and novel.

Following the group's career-high Furr, Destroyer of the Void is an immensely enjoyable effort.

The lows are more inconsequential than poorly executed. "Below the Hurricane" is an overlong cosmic folk ballad. The hushed duet "The Tree," with singer/songwriter Alela Diane, masks some intriguing lyrics with banal, by-the-numbers acoustic balladry.

When the six-piece is kicking, however, the results are impressive. The opening, title track is less epic by length (at just more than six minutes) than execution: Traversing from Beatles-esque harmonies to stadium-rock balladry to glam-rock jamming to dirty-country rave-up—finding room for some white noise—the song is a successful monstrosity. "Heaven and Earth," an atmospheric and mournful piano ballad, is beautifully poignant. "Laughing Lover" is a rousing, chugging rocker, and "The Tailor" is wildly entertaining storytelling, with excitable, layered instrumentation.

Frontman Eric Earley's lyrics manage to borrow from classic folk and blues standbys without ever veering into terrain too self-conscious or derivative. Earley's already considerable talent for the murder ballad is complemented by "The Man Who Would Speak True."

Should Blitzen Trapper refuse to undergo chameleon musical shifts from album to album, songs like the tender, airy closer "Sadie" should go a long way to mollify most severe criticism.

More by Michael Petitti


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