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Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void

May 31, 2010

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Blitzen Trapper, you really should. They have released two fantastic records [Wild Mountain Nation (2007) and Furr (2008)] and are set to release their newest record Destroyer of the Void on June 8th. All that I had heard of this album previously was the song ‘Heaven and Earth’, a subdued piano and strings track that told me nothing about how the new record would sound. It was safe to assume that the new album wouldn’t be a strictly piano album since their older albums have always seemed to rock in one way or another. Needless to say, I have been pretty excited lately about anything that Blitzen Trapper releases, so my expectations for this new album have been rather high.

And how is the new record? Well, much of the same, really. Where Furr was really a chance for the band to display their strength with an eclectic mix of folk, Destroyer is a much more comprehensive album. Sure, it sounds the same, but this is Blitzen Trapper we are talking about here. They have created a sound that is firmly their own, crafted from the annuls of 70s folk-rock and crafted to perfection. But can one say that this sound is starting to sound tired and over-used? No, I wouldn’t say that either. If anything, this album is very refreshing to hear coming from the band. Whereas Furr could be described as a band seeking to perfect their sound, Destroyer is them comfortably dwelling in the sound they have perfected.

This album isn’t without it’s share of missteps though. While they have perfected their sound and are using it well, one cannot help but compare the songs to songs that the band has released previously. The first track, ‘Destroyer of the Void’, sounds an awful lot like a slower version of ‘Sleepytime in the Western World’, even sharing the song’s tendency to keep making surprising tempo changes. And ‘The Man Who Speaks True’, the forth track, draws comparison to their single ‘Furr’, although any song that offers a narrative will be compared to ‘Furr’. For these two songs it just seems like the band is treading ground that they have traveled before; a journey that was much better the first time. Where the band has, as I have continued to write, become comfortable in their sound, it appears they are looking to older songs as a template, something that would not be advisable for them to do. Blitzen Trapper‘s strength has always been in the new and exciting; to re-hash old songs would be a disservice to the new album as well as the ones previous.

Fans of folk-rock albums from the 70s will find a friend in this album. It doesn’t shock and surprise with anything that would seem out of place in an album of this kind. But that isn’t to say that it is a boring album at all. Blitzen Trapper have written a love letter to the great folk-rock albums of the past: it has the guitar solos, it has harmonica, it has lyrics that don’t detract and fit nicely within the music, and the drum beats and fills are welcome to the ears. This band didn’t play it safe, it played to its strength, and it shows. This is a folk-rock album through and through, but what else were you expecting from the great Blitzen Trapper?

Destroyer of the Void drops on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 on Sub Pop Records.

Track listing:

  1. “Destroyer of the Void”
  2. “Laughing Lover”
  3. “Below the Hurricane”
  4. “The Man Who Would Speak True”
  5. “Love and Hate”
  6. “Heaven and Earth”
  7. “Dragon’s Song”
  8. “The Tree” (feat. Alela Diane)
  9. “Evening Star”
  10. “Lover Leave Me Drowning”
  11. “The Tailor”
  12. “Sadie”
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