Tape-Deck Heart is the latest in an ever more prolific set of releases from the often outspoken, guitar wielding, folk punk troubadour Frank Turner. We leave all the controversy over his political views and Eton education to one side, stick on a big pair of headphones and prepare to be blown away by some rowdy sing-along anthems that will have people stomping, moshing and doing merry little folk jigs all across the UK and Ireland this summer.
And that, Frank Turner fans is where we took our first wrong turn. If you’re expecting every track on this record to be a new ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘Long Live The Queen’ or even a ‘Nashville Tennessee’ then you’ll be somewhat disappointed. This album continues in the vain of ‘England Keep My Bones’, more experimental, a bigger band, more instrumentation and much less of the angry young folk singer from the early days.
Opener ‘Recovery’ is Frank Turner by numbers. It’s all break-up angst, niche references, big hooks, choruses that boys and girls will chant and too many lyrics to comfortably fit into the music. It’s what we’ve come to expect from a single and sets the stall out quite well. Much of the remainder of the album plods along at a somewhat pedestrian pace but we’ve come to expect a handful of tracks on each release to pack less of a punch.
‘Tape Deck Heart’ is a statement from Frank Turner. It’s a darker look at that post romance period with experimentation of styles, effects, time signatures and even a little Freddie Mercury influenced intro on ‘Four Simple Words’. In its attempts to be a huge magnum opus it stumbles a little, suffering from what I like to call the Green Day Effect. Other recent sufferers include Ryan Adams, Mumford & Sons and a whole heap of others.
‘Four Simple Words’ has already become a firm favourite at live shows, allowing the band to flex their musical muscles and rock out. Parts of it are classic Frank Turner, parts are steeped in cheesy bar-room pop. It’s the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for girls with chucks, polka dot dresses and sailor tattoos. In ‘Tell Tale Signs’ Turner sings:
Well goddammit, Amy, Well of course I’ve changed. With all the things that I’ve done and the places I’ve been, I’d be a machine if I had stayed the same.
And there we have it. This might not be what you expect from a Frank Turner album but god damn it Amy, do you expect him to play ‘Smiling At Strangers On Trains’ forever?