Frank Turner: Tape Deck Heart
Across the Atlantic, English folk/punk troubadour Frank Turner engaged in a chart battle with none other than the crooner Michael Bublé. Ultimately, Turner took the second slot, but it says a lot about Tape Deck Heart and the sort of driven fans that rally behind this charismatic fellow.
While his last album, 2011’s England Keep My Bones, was a consciously nationalistic record, Turner has gone personal for his latest effort. Heartbreak, self-loathing, and various forms of abuse appear throughout the lyrics, but Turner doesn’t just relish in the darkness. Throughout his music, there’s a sensation of mounting hope, and that is what sets him apart from the typical punk crowd.
“Recovery” could relish in the chemical haze of trying to cope with devastation, but even in the midst of the pained lyrics, there are bits like this: “Because I know you are a cynic, but I think that I can convince you/Yeah cos broken people can get better if they really want to.” This is contrasted with “Plain Sailing Weather,” which is a bad day’s perfect anthem with its refrain of “Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can fuck up anything, anything.” Whether in darkness or in hope, Turner is brutally honest and cuts down to the bone with his lyrics.
“Tell Tale Signs” chronicles the shame of broken love and self-inflicted scars and coming to terms with one’s flawed self. The stripped-back arrangement brings out the lyrics here, as is the case with “Broken Piano,” wherein Turner reverts back to his proudly English image. Here he is “a sinner amongst saved men on the banks of the muddy Thames,” playing sad songs outside an ex-lover’s window. There may be a couple of songs that strike me as frivolous on Tape Deck Heart, but that’s just because when Turner’s at his sharpest, few can hold a torch to his combination of frenzied energy and inevitable optimism.