At this point, after having released one of the best albums of 2007 and the best EP of 2009, it should be no surprise that Blitzen Trapper‘s 2010 full length, “Destroyer of the Void,” is nothing short of brilliant. As is their custom, the band blends 1960s sunny pop and distinct Beach Boy influences with moody Americana, indie rock and folk.
The opening, title track is epic. It’s a six-plus minute journey through time changes and myriad musical styles that serves as the perfect intro for this eclectic album. It never stands still, never gets complacent, and never rests. It’s the closest thing to Wilco I’ve heard since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It’s the Portland, Oregon sextet’s White Album. On it, they seem to pay tribute to Bob Dylan; Brian Wilson; crunchy 70’s garage-psych; airy, melodic 60’s pop; the jammy prog rock of the Grateful Dead; and even Kansas. If that sounds exhausting, I have to agree. If there’s one fault with the album it is that it demands so much of the listener. Even the most straightforward songs like folky sing-along The Tree (with Alela Diane) and the bluesy classic rocker Evening Star are more complicated than catchy. Familiar sounds weave throughout these songs—there are melodies we can recognize (“Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man!”) but they are reworked, and they only go so far before ending abruptly and turning into something wholly original. The vocals are so light that they invite the ears to listen easy. But there is nothing easy listening about this album.
And that’s what raises it so far above the shoulders of both its influences and compatriots.