Showing posts with label frank turner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frank turner. Show all posts

Friday, August 30, 2019

video review: 'no man's land' by frank turner

And here we go - honestly, I was preparing to bucket this with another review in a vacation review structure, but I honestly just had way too much to say - enjoy!

Anyway, next up... frankly, I've got no idea - stay tuned!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

album review: 'no man's land' by frank turner

Am I the only one who feels like Frank Turner can't really win these days to save his life?

And yes, I'm fully aware that a chunk of that statement comes from me being a fan of the guy - hell, I was actually kinder to his 2018 album Be More Kind than pretty much everyone, a project balanced on the precipice of hopepunk and existential emptiness that sadly didn't have nearly as much of an edge as it really needs to secure that balance - there was a wonky stiffness and cleanness to his production and delivery that really hampered that project as a whole. But throughout the majority of the 2010s it's been hard for me to shake the feeling that for as much as Turner is trying desperately to do the right thing artistically, he's either stuck chasing past glories or is facing an increasingly unpleasable audience with sky-high expectations - most of the time both. And while I've been feeling this to some extent since at least Tape Deck Heart, it really came to bear with the backlash to Be More Kind, where Turner was trying to provide hope both to his audience and himself and it didn't seem like he pleased either... mostly because with the exception of the furious and potent '1933', the songs themselves were not his strongest by a long shot.

So I had to hope that No Man's Land would click this time - but again, it did seem like Turner was setting himself up to fail. A folk rock project full of songs celebrating the famous and forgotten women of history on the surface seemed like a winning idea, especially in this climate with his recruitment of plenty of women behind the scenes, but a more cynical 'progressive' audience already seemed to have their pitchforks on standby for his audacity to tell those stories - hell, from what I can tell the backlash to this was even stronger than to Be More Kind, it's his worst-reviewed project to date! So yeah, I was expecting the worst with this... and yet how was No Man's Land?

Monday, May 7, 2018

video review: 'be more kind' by frank turner

I really do admire how damn hard this record is trying - really, I do - but man, I wish I liked this so much more...

Still, I'll savor what I've got here in comparison to this next episode of Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned...

album review: 'be more kind' by frank turner

At this point, I literally have no idea what to expect from Frank Turner.

Well okay, that's not quite true, but from his departure from post-hardcore towards indie folk and indie rock - and given that I didn't hear any of his singles going in - I literally had no expectations where this was going to go. Granted, there is a certain earnest sonic palette in his music that's familiar - surging guitars, big hooks, generally in the realms of indie folk rock - but beyond that, they were shades of a recognizable formula. So, even while I consider Love, Ire & Song his best work - and one of the best albums of the 2000s - it's not even that far removed from his last record Positive Songs For Negative People, arguably his biggest play for mainstream-adjacent attention courtesy of production from Butch Walker and even rumors of a Taylor Swift collaboration that didn't materialize - and while given what has happened to her in the past few years we'd probably consider that a blessing, there is a part of me that wishes that maybe some of Frank Turner could have rubbed off on her, that could have been really cool.

Instead, I started hearing odd things about this release, with influences spanning from Gang Of Four and Wire to mid-period records from The Cure, maybe even a pivot into 80s pop. This would unquestionably be a departure for him, and this has led to some of the most polarized reviews I've seen surrounding this project, especially when you hear there's a pretty stark political element to it. Now here's the thing: Frank Turner's political writing has always been complicated - go back to the title track of Love, Ire & Song and you'll realize he's never been some hard-line punk or leftist. And while my own tendencies have pushed me more in that direction, I'm up for the nuanced, difficult conversation, especially when you remember that Frank Turner is not American and even if a stylistic departure like this might wind up being an outlier for him long-term. So alright, what did we get on Be More Kind?

Monday, August 17, 2015

video review: 'positive songs for negative people' by frank turner

Fairly solid release, fairly solid review, no complaints there. Honestly hope my throat feels a bit better, Billboard BREAKDOWN is always crazy.

And speaking of that... whoo boy, get to talk about Lana Del Rey tomorrow, joy...

album review: 'positive songs for negative people' by frank turner

On some level, punk is always going to be a young person's genre. The raw anger, the focus on passion and energy over meticulous craftsmanship, the vitriolic power with maybe the nuance coming later, all of this shows up most in the heady rush of youth. So what happens when a punk grows up and encounters the crushing weight of adulthood?

Well, any number of things happen. Some will keep the faith, some will fade out of the scene naturally, some will even double down and rage all the harder, and some will opt to refine their simple songs into something with a little more weight or maturity or complexity. As such, it's not all that surprising that some punks will drift towards folk rock or rock operas or even alternative country, trading explosive energy for tighter songwriting or more grandiose presentation.

And one of the best examples of that is Frank Turner, who initially started in post-hardcore before going solo and making highly lyrical and yet no less passionate folk rock drenched in the grubby pub tradition that drew upon Celtic folk, disillusioned punk, and even hints of alternative country and piano rock. And there's a lot to really like about his brand of abrasive yet confessional songwriting, his clever knack for a great hook, and his eclectic hodgepodge of influences that are half tongue-in-cheek and yet often completely sincere. For me, my favourite album of Turner's is easily his second Love Ire & Song, as it felt like it brought the most instrumental flavour and excellently crafted songs to the table while still maintaining that punk edge. If I can find areas where Turner can stumble, it'd be some of his material can get a little sleepy and lacking in momentum, which would probably be the biggest criticism I'd have of his third album, or that his newest albums can occasionally feel a tad too polished, especially in his vocals. But none of that was going to stop me from reviewing his newest album Positive Songs For Negative People - does it live up to its title?