Review Summary: That the only thing that's left to do is live.
Frank Turner clearly has absolutely no idea how the world works and that's alright because neither do you or I. We're all messes of men trying to work out the next step and we're all prone to totally fu
cking up once or twice every day. It's fitting, then, that Love, Ire & Song
should be such a dizzying experience on a first listen, and remains that way until forever and ever; every single line Turner shouts at you makes absolute sense to both your head and your heart, but in the end you're left none the wiser by his assertions that we should all refuse to learn from our mistakes and insist on the impossible, because the whole point is that there's no handbook or summary manifesto for being alive. Although Love, Ire & Song
frequently comes pretty close.
All those hazy realisations you had about rebellion then quickly forgot; Turner collects them all in his fist and throws them at your face. He asserts on the title-track of this album that 'punk rock didn't live up to what [he] hoped that it could be,' and in many ways the five songs before it and the six after it expand on that buried sentiment. They're bold, honest and assertive statements on how not to give up on anything ever - even self-deprecating ballad 'Substitute' ends on a redeeming note - and they're little lessons on how to deal with the big issues that a hell of a lot of people have in their mind; how to grow up and not lose momentum, how to love, and how to smile as frequently as possible. Turner is less big on observations of the physical world and more interested in the consequences of our actions and the reasons behind them.
And really, this review of Love, Ire & Song
could just comprise the lyric sheets for all twelve songs, and I could maybe just leave that to pique your interest. And it would. But the magic of this record is that there is genuine beauty in hearing Turner deliver the lines in his everyman certainty for the very first time and every time after that. Most tracks stray not too far from an acoustic guitar and a voice, but the variations are astounding; folksy rock rhythms abound, there are hints of a gaelic influence in a couple of tracks, and that piano in 'Jet Lag' which hammers as the man starts to break... wow. You'll find a plugged-in, full band number under the title 'Imperfect Tense' and a rollicking folk anthem in 'To Take You Home.' And to top it all off Turner's handling of a melody is sublime; these are gentle choruses and largely unassuming hooks, but damn it, they're catchy as hell.
Honestly, though, Love, Ire & Song
isn't about its guitars and that sort of nonsense
. It's literally all on Turner and the way he constructs stories which prove why love, ire and song are the three essential components of a happy life. That's what this record essentially is: a celebration of those three things, in the most literate and intelligent way possible. 'Long Live The Queen' is a goosebump-inducing celebratory epitaph; 'Reasons Not To Be An Idiot' urges you to 'get up, get down and go outside'; and 'Photosynthesis' argues that 'if all you ever do with your life / is photosynthesise / then you deserve every hour of the sleepless nights / that you'll spend wondering when you're gonna die.' But best of all, opener 'I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous' closes with the simplest lines of the record and arguably the most important:
...the only thing that's left to do is live
After all of the loving and the losing, all the heroes and the pioneers
The only thing that's left to do is get another round in at the bar.
I think that just about says it all.