Frank Turner
Tape Deck Heart



by Channing Freeman STAFF
April 23rd, 2013 | 174 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Here’s the thing about Frank Turner: Love, Ire, & Song is not his best album. It’s not even his second best. So it irks me a little bit when people say that it’s so much better than everything else he’s done when the albums that came after have continually refined that sound. Now, I will grant you that Poetry of the Deed was not a worthy follow-up to Love, Ire, & Song. A lot of growing pains were evident on that record; Frank tried a lot of new things and succeeded at most of them, but some of the experiments didn’t work out so well (“Richard Divine,” anyone?). Furthermore, it was his first album recorded in full collaboration with The Sleeping Souls, and they were clearly still finding the rhythm as a band. But England Keep My Bones was everything Poetry should have been, and that’s because of The Sleeping Souls. People who dismiss his last few albums because they think his music only works as a solo act are missing out on some of the most dynamic rock music being made currently.

Tape Deck Heart isn’t as immediate as England Keep My Bones, but it’s just as good (and might even be better, although I haven’t decided for sure yet). This is much more of a traditional rock record than anything else Frank has done, and that’s a good thing because it means that it’s probably the most consistent album he’s made. I can’t emphasize enough just how good The Sleeping Souls have become as a band. Frank is as great as he’s ever been, but his band makes this record. “Four Simple Words” may seem like just a silly, light-hearted song about wanting to dance, but the ascending piano line in the chorus, the guitar solo, and the vibrant drums elevate it to a fantastic rock song with a “Bohemian Rhapsody”-esque structure. The lyrics speak toward everything Frank’s music has always been about: melting away the facades and pretensions until all that remains is good music.

As Frank’s star has continued to rise, he’s taken influence from loftier sources. “Four Simple Words,” as mentioned, takes a page out of Queen’s songwriting book. “Losing Days” reminds me a lot of REM. But interestingly (and thrillingly, for me), the biggest similarity I hear to this album is Counting Crows, a rock band with a discography full of genius songs that often gets overlooked because of their popularity (which is not dissimilar to some of the backlash to Frank’s last few albums). “The Way I Tend To Be” is the biggest example, with memorable drums and unconventional vocal inflections (listen to the way Frank draws out the word “remember” in the chorus, which sounds a little like something Adam Duritz would do). It’s also got a narrative swing to it that makes for one of Frank’s best lyrical achievements; the bridge in particular is amazing, as Frank sings, “Love is about all the changes you make and not just three small words.” In fact, Frank’s storytelling tendencies are in full display on Tape Deck Heart; listen to “The Fisher King Blues” and especially “Broken Piano” to hear him guide songs to stunning conclusions through his words.

Despite any influences I can discern, this album is still vintage Frank Turner, which is especially clear in a song like “Anymore”: a man and his guitar, singing about how he doesn’t love somebody anymore and about how disconcertingly easy it is to hurt someone when you’ve decided that’s what you need to do. There are some pretty standard criticisms lobbed Frank’s way these days – he’s too cheesy, he “pretends” to be punk, he’s too positive (whatever that means), he’s past his short-lived prime – and I’m sure people could come up with some halfway decent arguments to support those. But when I read stuff like that, honestly, I can’t help but be just a little bit sad because to me, Frank’s music is the truth, or as close to the truth as I’ve heard. Tape Deck Heart is another amazing chapter in the bible – a little fuller in sound, a little more tinged with experience – but what never changes is that nobody sings more powerfully than Frank about the influence of regret, about the grip of the past, and about how often we make mistakes because we have nothing with which to communicate but broken instruments.

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user ratings (316)
other reviews of this album
Sanders (4.5)
Frank Turner would appear to be equal parts shower and grower...

Jorn van Schaïk (4.5)
Frank Turner is an earnest man, and proves it on this album, even when it's slick......

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This review changed my life

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 2.0

Cannot understand this review at all. This is the sort of record I've always feared Frank would make. Every other line is a clanger, the instrumentation is woefully uninspired and he even tries to do a falsetto. I can't understand how anyone who genuinely loved EKMB or LI&S could think this was anything more than a 3/5.

April 23rd 2013


super review channing
this is rly good gonna jam it at work now

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's interesting that you mention the similarities to The Counting Crows because I believe he played some songs with them when they were touring here a couple of months ago. He covered one of their songs at his show here too.

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 1.5

Nice review although I completely disagree with it

April 23rd 2013


a 1.5 r u srs

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

August and Everything After is a fantastic record, yeah.

Still on the fence about this, but it sure has some great songs.

April 23rd 2013


good review Chanmantha

Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2013


Awesome review.

Digging: Manimal - Trapped in the Shadows

Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2013


I hope this is as good as you say it is. His last album was excellent.

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

Gah my feature was so fleeting

Cracking review as I'd expect, totally agree

April 23rd 2013


Now there are too many good reviews for this, I don't think I'll bother submitting mine.

Excellent, as always. I can't settle on my rating yet, but anyone who even tries to say this album "isn't Frank" is definitely off their rocker. I think he's becoming more himself with each release...if that makes sense.

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Absolutely amazing, have yet to be disappointed with Franky T.

Digging: Freddie Gibbs - Shadow of a Doubt

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

"Now there are too many good reviews for this, I don't think I'll bother submitting mine.

Excellent, as always. I can't settle on my rating yet, but anyone who even tries to say this album "isn't Frank" is definitely off their rocker. I think he's becoming more himself with each release...if that makes sense."

Submit it pal, I'd like to see how you formed your opinions, and mine was fairly amateurish anyway

April 23rd 2013


england keep my bones is like a tenth as good as love ire & song. which is really not that good either

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Album is really really good

Digging: Dinosaur Pile-Up - Eleven Eleven

April 23rd 2013


"Frank’s music is the truth, or as close to the truth as I’ve heard"

problem i have with him is that he's fake.

April 23rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"problem i have with him is that he's fake."

I've heard this a few times and I don't understand it at all. People say he "pretends to be punk" too but I really don't think he does these days, he's getting older and more mature and is leaving that part of him behind and it shows (and his lyrics suggest as much). The only song on the last two albums that even has hints of the "folk punk" shtick people pin on him is Four Simple Words. One of the reasons I like him so much is because, like the review says, he "melt[s] away the facades and pretensions until all that remains is good music". Simple, honest, unpretentious, and solid as hell.

Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2013


I don't understand this "fake" argument either. What proof exists that he's disingenuous?

April 23rd 2013


I'm an expert at hating things other people like and I honestly have no idea.

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