Blitzen Trapper’s more cohesive approach has yielded something that is becoming increasingly rare these days: An essential 13-song LP with no filler. There isn’t an extraneous verse, much less a superfluous track here. Though they have more clearly defined their shambolic Americana this time around, they still show great range and unpredictability with their songwriting. The harmony-laden, 40-second pastoral coda to “Love U” and the entirety of the drawling, honeyed pedal-steel showcase “Stolen Shoes & a Rifle” make a convincing argument that the dominant sound of Sub Pop in 2008 owes more to the country-rock poignancy of CSNY than the label’s punk past (see also: Fleet Foxes, Hardly Art’s Moondoggies). The first two and a half minutes of “Love U”, however, are a fuzzy, howling soup of reverberating guitars and jittery drum fills set amidst a molasses-slow dirge. And “Echo/Always On/EZ Con” pulls their organic, earnest sound into strange territory, bleeding a “See The Sky About to Rain”-like piano weeper into a brief, burbling mess of tech sounds that evolve into a funky disco strut. It is those sorts of unexpected flourishes that keep the album crackling with excitement and separate Blitzen Trapper from the rest of the bands that are trying their hands at a similar throwback sound.
It would have been hard to follow Wild Mountain Nation with anything as sprawling, expansive, or diverse, so Blitzen Trapper didn’t try. Instead, they settled down, focused, and managed to create something even better. This imaginative, heartfelt collection is more intimate than its predecessor, reveling less in boundless stylistic freedom and more in the creativity afforded by structure. Blitzen Trapper are no longer talented jacks-of-all-trades, but a master of one, and Furr is proof that this already-great band gets even better as they define themselves more specifically.