Saturday, 5 May 2018

Album Review: Frank Turner - Be More Kind

Hi All, sorry for the brief hiatus in output, gave myself a week off to get absolutely wrecked after payday, and although I like a drink while I write the states I’ve been in this week I wouldn’t get any sort of quality content down. Anyway I’m going back in with a long form review of the brand new Frank Turner album, ‘Be More Kind’. Franks’s been generous enough to pre release most of the songs so I’ve had a chance to run up the play count on a good few of these, but some are brand new to my ears today. Either way I’ve done 5 full playthoughs today and I’ll be going through each song in turn giving my thoughts on each track. Hope you enjoy.

1. Don’t Worry
Frank has always loved an epic opening track for all of his records and this one is no different. A slow paced, positive song with an amazing clap backbeat that sets the pace for the whole song, a really uplifting middle part with a great piano tune turns into a singalong clapalong end section built for live shows. The message conveyed within speaks of dusting yourself off and being optimistic, that other people feel weird too and we’re all in it together. A statement of intent for the rest of the record indeed.

2. 1933
Never one to shy away from a political statement or acerbic social commentary, this tune is Frank at his most forthright and ummm... frank (sorry). A punky, spiky tune, with a great chugging bass part that reminds me of something off Green Day’s seminal Dookie album. Frank goes in hard on the current ignorant ‘them vs us’ mentality prevalent in the Country. Elements of brexit, left and right wing politics and “outside it’s 1933 so I’m hitting the bar” show a dissastisfaction for the horrible rivalry politics, division and selfishness of the current regime. Frank said he was going to inject more politics into this album, and he doesn’t pull any punches here. A fantastic tune with an important message.

3. Little Changes
A tune about collectively making small steps towards improvement of ourselves and our world, this could be turned into the fucking national anthem at the moment and the Country would benefit from it. A call to arms for everyone to just be a little bit better, together. Plus it’s got a ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh’ part which always sells me. So far so good for the whole record, the flow is good and the songs are catchy.

4. Be More Kind 
The album’s title track is a strong reminder of the compassion of humanity and remembering the three simple words (not four simple words that was a different Frank record). An uplifting track that offers a calming vibe, where everyone should just try to be kind and how much better that would make our lives. It’s something that I’ve tried to practice a lot more lately, focusing on the things I love rather than raging against the things you hate or can’t change. I swear to god, just try it.

5. Make America Great Again
Not going to dwell on this one for too long as I’ve already done a review of it on here. Americans are fantastic. The President is not. “Let’s Make America Great Again, by making racists ashamed again.” Fuckin’ A.

6. Going Nowhere.
A jangly Americana riff accompanied by a staggered drumbeat start a plodding song, purposely downbeat to not overpower Frank’s vocal about having someone sticking together with a friend/partner through thick and thin and not going anywhere. There’s one of those ‘you tried to do this but then you got the opposite thing’ verse similar to that of ‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morrissette, but there’s no soaring chorus just another solemn promise to be there “I’m going nowhere”.

7. Brave Face
Frank starts with a spitting punk solo vocal, bringing in the rest of the Sleeping Souls gradually into a full band rocky chorus with yet more positivity and uplifting messages. Frank has really decided to go positive over the past few albums since ‘Tape Deck Heart’, having read his book a few times I am pleased he’s managed to try and pull away from the darkness. This song is about Frank helping someone through a dark time, and with inspirational tunes like this he could probably help a good few more.

8. There She Is
Frank’s first overt ‘Love’ song on the record. Taking in themes of romance, forgiveness and luck, it discusses really pertinent subjects to me at the moment. The only song I’ve not listened to on every playthough as I’m not about that at the moment and it’s far too close to home. Nonetheless a great song and I’m sure I’l come back to it one day.

9. 21st Century Survival Blues
Another surging social commentary about the state of the world and getting away from it all, believing in people and not taking anything for granted. Frank talks about stripping away the things on the news and the internet and focusing on the things you really need, in the case of this song it’s ‘you’, which would assume to be partner (or potential one). By no means the high water mark of the album, but still a solid tune.

10. Blackout
A song about a power cut that goes metaphorically deep and talks about two people who are afraid of the ‘darkness’ assumed to be both literal and metaphorical. A weaving high tone lead guitar line gets the whole band involved in the first single from the album. I’d say it’s the most radio friendly track on the record designed to get ears onto the record. Not the most lyrically deep but some great comparisons about being afraid of the lights going out and also the actual ‘darkness’ of depression and mental health.

11. Common Ground
On first listen the only thing I could do was imagine this as a Get Cape song. The snappy dancy backbeat reminds me of Sam Get Cape’s first record. The song tackles subjects of forgiveness and understanding. Frank’s really pushing the positivity on this album and it’s really refreshing. Give this one a listen on a sunny day, it’s incredibly uplifting.

12. The Lifeboat
Ah, just when I started talking about it being a positive album, we get a trademark downbeat reflective Frank track. The first half of the song talks of loss and disappointment, before building into a song about getting through it. Rising above it, soaring violins accompany the last verse and chorus building into a positive ending, ah Frank you nearly had me there! Thinking you were going to do a sad song!

13. Get It Right
Just one man and his guitar, the way he started his career, our favourite Winchester son at his very rawest, at his very best. Frank does the singalong song so fucking well, reminiscent of some of his early songs, with great potential for screaming back at the stage with all your friends. “Badadada-da-da let’s try to get it right” gang vocal complements the last chorus and is a really incredibly good ending to the record.

Overall I’d say that some of the tracks on this record are going straight into my top 10 Frank songs. I’d say Make America Great Again and  Don’t Worry are the two that would make it in. But the whole album is fantastic, a great standard throughout, with various styles and influences from Frank’s 6 previous albums and thousands of shows all present and honed to perfection. Frank’s come a long way since he put his foot through the ceiling of Flicks while crowdsurfing with Million Dead. He deserves everything he’s getting at the moment and the hardest working man in rock seems to be much happier these days and I’m glad he’s using his platform for positive purposes. I’m giving the album an 8.5 but I’ll probably up it once I’ve listened to it a couple more times. Hope you’ve enjoyed the read. Thx, Craig.

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