Album Review: Blitzen Trapper – Wild and Reckless

By Devon Hannan, Editorial Director
[LKC; 2017]
Rating: 3.5/10

Key Tracks: “Joanna”, “Dance With Me”

Ever since leaving Sub Pop, Blitzen Trapper has been producing high quality southern dad rock. (And no, that’s not really a compliment.) The Portland band hit the folk scene with force with Wild Mountain Nation. They then exceeded those expectations with their 2008 release, Furr. Even after that, their releases on Sub Pop were still pretty killer. Sure, nothing topped Furr, but after their final release with the label, their southern twang stuck a little too hard. Blitzen Trapper has dug themselves a ditch that they can’t seem to crawl out of.

Blitzen Trapper just isn’t as genuine and ambitious as they used to be, and this shows so heavily on Wild and Reckless. They have found comfort in being either completely underwhelming with barstool semantics or overwhelming while using an overabundance of out-of-place synths. Nothing on this record makes sense instrumentally. That’s not so say that crossovers can’t be really well done, but mixing electronica with Bruce Springsteen-esque twang has never worked and it probably never will.

The band has found their guns and they have plans to stick to them. This can be admirable, if you’re into that kind of thing, but unfortunately, Blitzen Trapper just seems like they’re running out of ideas. The only thing that this band seems to talk about anymore is getting older. They keep milking the same old references that they’ve used since Destroyer of the Void and it’s getting plain old boring. Adding wonky production is only going to get you so far when there’s only an an ounce of substance holding everything else up.

Given the contents, there are a few highlights on the album that help keep it afloat. Soft, sweet and a little bit sad, “Joanna” is a fine taste of classic cowboy Americana. It paints a picture in slow motion, giving an allusion the almost stagnant passing of time. On the other hand, “Dance With Me” is a bop reminiscent of Tom Petty met with catchy riffs and a fast, driving motion.

All in all, where Blitzen Trapper fails the most is in their efforts to create genre-bending material. The combinations that they’re going for have been tried and tried again. Spacey Americana isn’t a genre for a reason. It is time that Blitzen Trapper retires the idea and instead turns their attention on lyrically entrancing subject matter. The instrumentation on an album means nothing if the story isn’t there.

Listen here:

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