Blitzen Trapper: Wild and Reckless
Out 3rd of November 2017
The Portland based quintet return with a concept album that describes a dark dystopian America. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews.
Wild and Reckless was originally conceived as a musical/rock opera that included other songs from the band’s back catalogue. The band then choose to enter the studio and compose some extra material. The record is a concept album but without a firm storyline running through it, it feels more like a gallery of characters and places that conjure up an atmosphere (a bit like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’s Southern Accents LP).
As usual with Blitzen Trapper the songs are perfectly crafted, each tune having enough musical twists to sustain the album’s momentum. The band’s sound is a bit more modern than on its predecessor “All Across This Land” which was a straight rock’n’roll album but frontman Eric Earley still has the knack for penning a classic rock song. Opener “Rebel” with its steady picking and solid backbeat engraves itself in your ear and the mournful first verse followed by a rollicking chorus structure of the title track is a familiar trick but perfectly executed here. The short but sweet “Forever Pt.1” sends you in a time warp to an early seventies Beach Boys record while the bareness of “Joanna” only serves to amplify the songs powerful lyrics. “No Man’s Land” features another great chorus and the band give us a slightly Neil Young-ish mid-temp number with “Stolen Hearts” (think Shakey circa “Comes-A-Time”).
A propulsive rocker with great riffing inspired by Pete Townshend (“Dance With Me”) seats comfortably against a more reflective track (“Love Live On”). The bluesy “I’m Dying” features some really interesting soloing where the band proves again they are great arrangers, the whole song is a subtle display of instrumental virtuosity but executed with taste (again the comparison with Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers is obvious). “Baby Won’t You Turn On Me” and “Forever Pt.2) are maybe slightly weaker than the other tracks but the record ends up on a high with a suitably anthemic coda (“Wind Don’t Always Blow”) .