Review Summary: Swap your confirmation for your dancing shoes
In a way Frank Turner really did a number on his future self with his 2008 release Love, Ire and Song
. For those of us that grew attached to it, Love, Ire, and Song
became a generational album. It was the perfect combination of the self-loathing doubt, transitional angst, and drunken glory that embodies growing up. Sadly for Frank, everything he would release after would be compared to it, justly or not. Since then, his perspective has changed. Frank has gone from retelling his most trying moments verbatim, like he did on his first two albums, to channeling those core frustrations into something more. His first attempt at this, Poetry of the Deed
was both a hit and a miss. While songs like “Try this at Home” and “Dan's Song” still balanced this bigger picture with his introverted realization, a number of songs on the album came off as overreaching and trite. Late last year he released the Rock n Roll EP
as a sort of teaser for England Keep My Bones
. With the exception of “I Still Believe”, it was more of a diversionary tactic than a preview of things to come, as it felt like a continuation of Poetry of the Deed
's ups and downs.
Luckily, England Keep My Bones
finally gets the combination right and stands right alongside Love, Ire and Song
as one of Frank Turner's best works. “Eulogy” kicks off England Keep My Bones
in a triumphantly anthemic fashion. Its opening stanza is lovably everyman, declaring “everyone can raise their glass and sing,” but it's his closing shout of “Well, I haven't always been a perfect person/ I haven't done what mom and dad have dreamed/ But on the day I'll die I'll say 'At least I fu
cking tried!'/ That's the only eulogy I need,” which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Throughout England Keep My Bones
Frank touches on his
identity, both cultural and personal, bringing back the familiar and comforting sounds of a man coming to terms with his self which Poetry of the Deed
so desperately lacked. The former is showcased brilliantly in tracks like “Rivers”, “English Curse” and “Wessex Boy”, which feels like a natural continuation of “To Take You Home”, in which Frank delves into the longing of just being at home that he faces on the road. Part nostalgia part patriotism, Frank's England is idyllic; where petty politics are replaced by the rolling countryside in which he achingly remembers from thousands of miles away. Frank's other half is the Frank we're used to, the Frank whose introspective insight sounds as if he's singing to and for his audience, be it a crowd of hundreds or a kid in his bedroom. From the escapism in “I am Disappeared” to the grab life by the horns joie de vivre of “Peggy Sang the Blues” he captures both the highs and the lows, but it's the reflective stance in songs like “Nights Become Days” that carries the most weight. Blurring the line between the exuberance of youth and burning out on heavy drug use, it is achingly somber and penetratingly accurate.
Even as it nears its end, England Keep My Bones
still feels as if it's growing towards something bigger. That something is the album's last track “Glory Hallelujah”. The title is dripping with irony as the closer is Frank's self-proclaimed atheist anthem. Much to his credit, it is one of his finest moments too. “Glory Hallelujah” is heart warming in its cries of “There is no god”. It's funny how a song with such an austere stance on what is obviously a bit of a divisive stance is so comforting. It just goes to show that when he's on, he's really
cking on, and thankfully on England Keep My Bones
Frank is with out a doubt “on”.