Review Summary: Frank Turner's journey continues, exactly as expected
While Positive Songs for Negative People
was a decent enough record in its own right, it lacked any semblance of outstanding spark that made Frank Turner such a great musician in the first place. For the first time, Turner made an album that was just ‘there’, and the end result was far less than the sum of its parts.
With the release of the Mittens
EP, Turner proves that he’s still bringing more of the same to the table. Its eponymous track was a genuine, if not too saccharine offering off of Positive Songs
, the kind of song that made its parent album nothing more than decent. The four new ones range in style, from piano ballad to upbeat folk-rock, but as a whole the release just manages to keep its head above water. The fast-tempo “Least of All Young Caroline” makes the best use of The Sleeping Souls, as the drum and guitar work help complement Turner’s melody, while “Cleopatra in Brooklyn” shows off the Wessex boy’s heartfelt side. Lyrically, his inspirational crusade has caused him to sacrifice quality for motivation, although hearing Turner sing “that was a serious kick in the balls” in all of his British glory is mildly amusing.
All in all, while Mittens
is a fine listen, it once again seems a bit too predictable for Turner, like the kind of songs he could have written in his sleep three years ago. There’s nothing amazing about it, and as a stopgap to show off the B-sides from the Positive Songs
era, it serves its job decently enough. It’s just a shame that it all sounds so safe.