Since Wild Mountain Nation, this Portland band's 2007 critically acclaimed album, there has been much talk about the brazen diversity of the lo-fi gems that littered that record, the way it lurched from avant-guard guitar noise to dreamy country heartbreakers. So it's surprising and refreshing to get this follow-up which seems to turn its back on much of that praise and is a crystal clear exploration of everything from 70's rock legends like The Grateful Dead and The Byrds to all the roots country melody that preceded that. They still embody the Beck sense of experiment but have made a decisive choice as to which elemnt of the previous record they wish to develope.
Furr is way more consistant than Wild Mountain Nation and though it lacks the debuts experimental flare it makes up for it in its ability to roll out songs that range from the wilderness-wandering soul of Stolen Shoes & A Rifle and the psych-rock skyrockets of Fire And Fast Bullets. The charm of Blitzen Trapper is that they are so heavily embedded in a rootsy/country sound but are, at the end of the day, an indie rock group who have grown up with the DIY mentality of bands like Pavement. Put all this together and the result is a sound that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve but at the same time manages to disguise them beautifully.
Much of Wild Mountain Nation seemed to filter Eric Earley's vocals through effects that kept it distant, yet here it is brought to the forefront and is gleamingly clear and intimate. Furr excells because the lo-fi elemnt is kept at a minimum and the intention here is to make complete songs that ooze atmosphere with their embracing of Dylan style narrative as in the story of muder and revenge in Black River Killer. Dusty landscapes roll out infront of songs like these, landscapes that hold in refuge all sorts of fugatives and runnaways. Slide guitar tumbles along, accompanied by the gentle acoustic strum, but the two can just as easily be interupted by swirling, narcottic guitar and playful yet decrepit keyboards. This musical mix and Earley's sometimes soulful and sometimes shrieking vocal delivery seem to ask more questions than they answer and yet it's in these questions that Furr's ultimate success lies. In lesser hands an album such as this would be of no use to the world but amongst its solid songs loiters an unruly side that will keep you coming back for more.