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First Listen: Blitzen Trapper, 'Destroyer Of The Void'

Blitzen Trapper doesn't quite fit into the mold of its sleepy, frequently bearded folk-rock brethren. Sure, it employs a similar palette, but the Oregon group has undertaken wild and dramatic shifts from album to album, genre to genre and riff to riff.

Blitzen Trapper's latest record, Destroyer of the Void, follows 2008's Furr and 2006's Wild Mountain Nation with another ambitious and stylistically diverse curveball. Where Furr seemed to find the balance between concise songcraft and experimentation, Destroyer adopts an "everything in" sensibility.

From the country-fried jams to sterling vocal harmonies that recall Fleet Foxes (by way of Crosby, Stills & Nash, of course), Blitzen Trapper packs in plenty of ideas, often within the same song. Still, the band finds a consistent voice in songwriter Eric Earley, who somehow holds it all together.

An evocative storyteller, Earley can both sing sentimentally of lost love and craft grim tales of death and remorse. "I only spoke truth, but it only brought death, and I laid those boys to rest / For the truth in truth is a terrible jest," he sings in the murder ballad "The Man Who Would Speak True."

Musically, Destroyer of the Void plays out as a modern take on a '70s classic-rock record, complete with a folky rocker ("Evening Star"), a stark piano ballad ("Heaven and Earth") and a duet with Alela Diane that recalls Gram Parsons' work with Emmylou Harris ("The Tree"). But it's the record's most energetic songs, the title track and "Laughing Lover," which find Blitzen Trapper turning more dramatically toward complex multi-part arrangements that bring to mind E.L.O., complete with key changes and interchanges between synthesizers and soaring guitars.

Though it sacrifices consistency for diversity, Destroyer of the Void rewards those patient and ambitious enough to seek out its rewards. The album will stream here in its entirety until its release on June 8; please leave your thoughts on Destroyer of the Void in the comments section below.

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Mike Katzif
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