Review Summary: Sing along, remember to be happy.
He’s been a busy man has our Frank. The trusty folk rock troubadour who began life fronting hardcore band Million Dead turned full circle by adding Mongol Horde to his increasingly long list of successes. Between them, his solo work, and opening the London Olympics back in 2012 with quintessentially British shouts of “Come Ye” on ‘I Still Believe,’ he’s barely stopped to catch his breath since 2003. While this would be enough to cause burnout in many, the reality for Frank Turner is quite the opposite. He seems to thrive on his hectic schedule, and even cursory glances at his live performances tell you all you need to know about his love for music. Tape Deck Heart
may have been a break up album, but it didn’t stop that familiar glint in his eye from reappearing when he performed it live. So often betrayed by a genuine smile, Turner proved that the joy he experiences while performing will always trump the content, and that nothing can keep him down for long. Positive Songs for Negative People
is the antithesis of its predecessor: the outlook is optimistic without ever being corny, and throughout we’re reminded that determination and doggedness are infinitely more rewarding than wallowing.
Turner and his backing band The Sleeping Souls prove they’re as strong as ever with typically capable songwriting, but the real star of Positive Songs for Negative People
is the lyrics. They may not be deep but their intentions are pure, and above all else they’re incredibly refreshing. Life is championed and we’re encouraged to appreciate the small things, to be present in the moment, and to never linger on the past for longer than is healthy. Frank admissions are made throughout, such as “I’m trying to get better cos I haven’t been my best” on upbeat rocker ‘Get Better,’ and “But I don’t want to spend the whole of my life indoors, laying low, waiting for the next storm” on the piano driven ‘The Next Storm.’ There are plenty of examples which highlight the theme which runs throughout, and since his last album it feels as though Frank has scrutinised the defensive, withdrawn mindset which affected him, and decided that it wasn’t for him at all. Upon reflection, he’s keen to remind us that it simply isn’t worth dwelling on these detrimental thoughts. While this certainly isn’t anything groundbreaking, it’s not often we’re reminded to try and enjoy the moment without distraction, and it’s certainly nice to be reminded every once in a while.
Big choruses, as always, feature prominently on Positive Songs for Negative People
, and while they aren’t the focal point, they still fulfil their role brilliantly. “Mittens” is a bluesy mid tempo number which features a more sombre chorus than those surrounding it. Tinged with remorse but also with the acceptance that sometimes things simply aren’t meant to be, it proves to be a surprisingly effectual message long after the record has finished. None prove to be more infectious than the stellar ‘Glorious You,’ however. The content encapsulates the rosy outlook adopted by Turner throughout, and the timbre he adopts as he charges into the chorus hits the spot perfectly, making it the finest on the album, and perhaps one of the finest in his discography. Elsewhere, the prominent combination of enthusiastic piano and electric guitar make for more memorable moments, such as the frenetic, aptly titled ‘Out of Breath,’ and the buoyant ‘The Next Storm.’
Positive Songs for Negative People
lives up to its name and is an enjoyably straight forward record. Unfortunately, the album’s biggest strength also holds it back from ranking among his finest, as the overarching optimism makes the record feel slightly thin and superficial compared to his previous offerings. Despite this, if enjoyed at face value, you’re unlikely to find many more gratifying albums in 2015. On Positive Songs for Negative People
, Frank Turner proves once again that he’s present in the moment and enjoying the fruits of his labour in the here and now: he wants you to do the same.