Described by frontman Eric Earley as both a companion to and extension of their acclaimed 2008 release Furr, Wild & Reckless was born out of Blitzen Trapper's rock opera of the same name, which debuted in their hometown of Portland, Oregon in 2016. A nostalgia-driven cautionary tale of corruption, drugs, heartbreak, and science fiction -- think Bonnie and Clyde meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas -- the 12-track set includes seven songs from the musical and five new numbers, all of which brood, shimmy, pine, and shake with the distinctive backwoods Laurel Canyon vibe that became the band's forte upon the release of 2011's American Goldwing. That penchant for mounting classic rock tropes onto a country-folk foundation gets the occasional deviation -- the airy "No Man's Land" and the orchestral "Forever" definitely lean toward the musical theater side of the band's oeuvre -- but for the most part, Wild & Reckless eschews the group's more experimental works like Wild Mountain Nation and Destroyer of the Void. Still, Earley remains an engaging vocalist and lyricist, and it's easy to get swept up in all of the weird roadside Americana imagery, even if it's not often clear where the narrative is going. Blitzen Trapper have always been at their best when the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and highway-ready anthems like "Rebel," "Stolen Hearts," "Dance with Me," and the soaring title cut don't disappoint, delivering a perfect blend of pathos and Pacific Northwest wanderlust, which incidentally is exactly what made Furr so compelling.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger