Album Review

Blitzen Trapper, 'Destroyer of the Void'

June 7, 2010

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Listening to new music these days, it’s hard not to feel like Desmond from “Lost.’’ You press a button on a computer and all temporal logic goes out the window. Portland sextet Blitzen Trapper certainly isn’t going to help to serve as our time constant. The band’s fifth record operates with a mercurial, decade-spanning dishevelment. The six-minute-plus title track alone moves from Beatlesesque harpsichord and harmonizing, to a proggy 1970s-style synthesizer rock opera, to countrified classic-rock bombast. It’s either a vigorous blast of referential world-building and certified NPR rock perfection, or an aural whiplash nightmare. It also sets the tone for the album’s tour through the classic-rock catalog, picking up Neil Young, ELO, Bob Dylan, and the Grateful Dead in its groovy VW love bus. That pervasive quoting occasionally distracts from the top-notch songcraft and musicianship, although the emotive piano-and-strings ballad “Heaven and Earth’’ and the lovely harmonized duet with Alela Diane on “The Tree’’ make space for the flowery beauty to take precedence. The hippies of the Dharma Initiative are going to love it. (Out tomorrow) LUKE O’NEIL