Friday, July 16, 2010

Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void

If someone put on the new Blitzen Trapper album, Destroyer of the Void, it’s damn fucking likely that you’d mistakenly think John Lennon and George Harrison have come back to life to reune with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, and the famed foursome decided to invite Tom Petty to join them as their new lead singer. Shit’s just that similar. As it turns out, no scientific research is in order. The world has not gone sideways. No one has risen from the grave to strum and sing. There was never some covert meeting and recording session, either. Blitzen Trapper has simply made an album that largely sounds like a smash up of the two entities.

Judging from the music and title of the new album, the aim seems to be to dismantle the divide between the Beatles and Tom Petty. To stitch the six-year gap together and retroactively create a bridge between the band and the man. In doing so, Blitzen Trapper has discarded much of the alt hippie-country style that made them such an entertaining and enjoyable band to listen to, replacing it with harmonies and instrumental accompaniment that sounds downright derivative. The result is that there are few remarkable songs. Almost nothing stands out other than the scattershot nature of the album.

They do have a couple of gems in there, though. “The Man Who Would Speak True” is a Dylanesque track that harkens back to Blitzen Trapper’s brilliant EP, Black River Killer. It has that cool country sound and story-telling, that fairly simple and bare arrangement and smart lyrical content that garnered Eric Earley praise as a songwriter. But just as the band sinks into that iconic style, the doo-wop harmonies return and it’s back to the same uninspiring tunes as before.

The Tom Petty and the Beatles sound is not entirely terrible and is at times enjoyable in a comfortably familiar sort of way. Some songs sound more Petty-ish while others verge on Wings covers (I’m looking at you duet with Alela Diane, “The Tree”). They can be agreeably light and fanciful but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before… a lot. It is something that could’ve been engineered by taking the acappella recordings of Tom Petty and fitting them to the instrumentals of various Beatles tracks. Call it Let It Be Full Moon Fever, or Destroyer of the Void.

No comments: