Review Summary: Exuberant, playful and as deeply personal as ever: England’s folk/punk hero nails that ‘difficult’ second album.
On his first LP, Sleep is for the Week
, Frank Turner laid himself out for all to see; with songs exploring every significant facet of his life, the record became an evocative snapshot of a twenty-something jobbing musician in contemporary England. The tone of the record flipped from melancholy folk (A Decent Cup Of Tea) to more energetic, punkier numbers (Once We Were Anarchists), but the record remained a cohesive and rather endearing foray into the big bad world of the solo record. The future seemed bright for the former Million Dead frontman, even if few could have predicted just how bright. Because when Love, Ire & Song
finally landed, fans were treated to a wonderfully enthusiastic album that was an improvement upon its predecessor, yet one still laced with the same character and charm which made Sleep is for the Week
so appealing. With apparent ease Turner had sidestepped the second album hurdle that brings so many to their knees. This album was good
Perhaps the most obvious change to take form in Love, Ire & Song
is a general refinement; one that sees Turner flaunting a stronger melodicism, an experienced lyrical content and a more professional level of production - albeit one that leaves the record with a beautifully organic sound. And where his first record was the statement of a struggling musician trying to find his way in the world, here Turner displays an optimism, a positivity that reflects the beginnings of a successful
career. The subject matter of the songs is much the same as on his debut, with personal relationships remaining the main focus, but whereas much of Sleep is for the Week
was infused with melancholy, here the songs often bloom into brighter sections, like the celebration of life’s better aspects in ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ and the benefits of an idealistic outlook in the title track. There is, though, still that gritty exploration of life’s little dramas that gives Turner’s music such a beautifully personable quality; from a case of love at first sight, to the aftermath of a drug fuelled weekend, nothing is held back. The honesty here is as refreshing as it is endearing, and it’s all delivered with a keen eye and wry wit that makes it all the more effective.
There is some variance throughout the album, with the inclusion of electric guitar to add a distinct punk flavour to ‘Imperfect Tense’ and piano in the elegantly subdued ballad ‘Jet Lag’, but the main focus of the album is still brisk acoustic music that flits between folk and punk as if the two were made for each other. The songs have a more rounded, fuller sound than that on Sleep is for the Week
, with tasteful inclusions of violin that never feel tacked on or superfluous. But for all its refinement, there remains a delightful unruliness around the edges of the music which gives it that earthy, organic feel – something that suits the subject matter of the record perfectly. If there is a flaw to the album, it is probably a tendency to be too simplistic at points, like in the entertaining but rather reductive ‘Reasons Not to be an Idiot’. This doesn’t affect the overall success of the album, though, and for any fan of character driven music, the warm pleasures of folk or the youthful vitality of punk, then Love, Ire & Song
is absolutely the way to go.
Love, Ire & Song
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous