Review Summary: Frank's best in years
I feel like attempting to assess a Frank Turner record with anything closely approximating objectivity would be like trying to convey to my grandma that her homemade sweetmeats simply aren't all that sweet. It’d be terribly ungrateful and disingenuous of me, given I'd gracelessly munch on Frank's savory confectionery any day of the week (what
). The chase, swiftly cut towards, is this: a rose-tinted sombrero protects artists such as Frank from receiving anything but my blind, giddy, gushing, gleeful praise. Love, Ire & Song
and Tape Deck Heart
are the well-weathered pillars atop which my musical taste precariously rests, records that I grew up with and to which I owe an embarrassing amount to. I am blatantly biased and, as such, liable to be extraordinarily unhelpful as a critic … apologies
. Consume the following with an appropriate dosage of salt, pinched as required.
Good news: FTHC
Frank-fans have been desperately hoping to hear from the Camden songsmith for almost 10 years. Looking inwards and dialing into his hardcore roots once more, the singer-songwriter’s 9th(!
) LP marks a return of the sound / sentiment / spark that made the grizzled folk-rocker so endearing and beloved to begin with: numerous stanzas, unashamedly confessional; raucous refrains, unabashedly stadium-sized; and oodles of character, genuine and wholesome and kind
. Ever relatable tales are spun just so
, simple and direct so as to mandate little unpicking to unpack, yet bursting with vivid lived experience and valuable life lessons. Cozy up to the embrace of “The Work” and “Little Life”, loving odes to the mundane patience that sustains a worthwhile relationship, and scream along to the self-explanatory anthem of “Haven’t Been Doing So Well” - you'll find comfort, probably
, I promise. So too in the muscular groove-fests of “The Gathering” and “Punches” can simple joy be gleaned, painfully signable in the extreme and sure to become longstanding live-circuit favorites. The ambitious, outward-facing aspirations of Frank’s last couple of projects are reined-in with refreshing results, FTHC
returning to more modest means and engaging ends: a Frank Turner record that actually
sounds like a Frank Turner record (yay!
Eventually, inevitably, the sunshine and rainbows fade away. In their place: quite possibly Frank’s best songwriting in a decade. Heartstrings are plucked and subsequently shattered across “A Wave Across A Bay”, a worthy tribute to Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson and easily the most beautiful track here. Separately, the bitterness of Sleep Is For the Week
classic “Father's Day” is reignited and refined by “Fatherless” - skeptically prodding at the concept of masculinity and fatherhood through the lens of an 8-year-old Frank - only to be quenched by the brilliant “Miranda”, coming full circle in an essential tome on self-reflection and empathy. It’s emblematic of the palpable sense of place and peace that resonates throughout FTHC
, a record that glances back fondly at the past whilst seeking to reconcile it with the present, all the while looking forward eagerly to what’s to come. Nowhere is this clearer than closer “Farewell To My City”: a boisterous, bittersweet goodbye to London town that’s sure to resonate with those who have followed Frank through the years.
Make no mistake: despite its punk rock opener and hXc inspired title, FTHC
is still cheese-stuffed radio fodder that stands absolutely no chance of converting anyone not already signed up to the cult of Frank (to whom I would wholeheartedly recommend England Keep My Bones
, a far superior record). However, to my fellow zealots: rejoice! If you felt Be More Kind
and No Man’s Land
missed the mark, FTHC
will remind you of why you fell for Frank in the first place. Just learn the words, sing along and devour
his sweet, sweet sweetmeats