Blitzen Trapper; 3/5 stars
Much of Blitzen Trapper’s latest album, "VII," feels like an experiment. There is nothing clean or tidy about this album. Instead, it is raw and energetic. Despite rough patches throughout the album, "VII" is one undertaking that ultimately pays off.
The album starts off with 'Feel the Chill,' a song that showcases Blitzen Trapper's evolution. The country rock lyrics and folk instrumentals are still there, but certain electronic influences have become apparent. Synthesizers flitter about while a fuzzy lead guitar weaves in and out. This opening jam is perfectly sets the tone for the first five songs of the album. Put together with sing-alongs like 'Shine On' and the more traditional folk piece 'Ever Loved Once,' the first few tracks are fun and nearly flawless.
It is to the album's benefit that the first half is so strong, because the next few songs hit a stumbling block. 'Ocean Geography,' with its ambling banjo track and dark lyrics, leaves very little for the listener to grasp onto. 'Earth' could have been great as well, but it fails to discern itself after the stronger beginning tracks. Thankfully, this slump doesn’t last for more than a few songs. By the time 'Heart Attack'—a sure hit with listeners—comes on, Blitzen Trapper has returned back to their characteristically danceable and upbeat songs.
What distinguishes this album is the earnestness that shines throughout. This isn’t a band that is trying to deliberately produce something experimental. This is a band that simply does exactly what it wants.
“I don’t really see this as experimental," said frontman Eric Earley. "I don’t even really know what that means. I write songs and treat them how they should be treated."
Blitzen Trapper proves that, even after a full ten years together, they are still as versatile as ever. From crowd-pleasing hits to darker and eerier songs, "VII" has something for every fan.
“People make something, and there are these themes that come out of it, whether they are conscious of it or not," said Earley. "They are the themes that occur and are reoccurring in their own life."
To Earley, he just writes the music. It’s up to the listener, whomever that may be, to interpret it and make it his or her own.
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