Less than a month ago, I reviewed Frank Turner’s newest album, Tape Deck Heart. That review can be found here, for those who are interested. In the month since then, the album has been listened to many, many, many times. And it turns out I’m super unhappy about where I left things.
I liked the album, but not as much as I wanted to. This is because I was expecting another England Keep My Bones. This was a mistake. It was silly. It coloured my notions of the album.
So instead of hearing a beautiful, ridiculous personal confession album, I heard “not England Keeps My Bones“.
And now there are so many more things I want to talk about. For starters, if you’re a Frank Turner fan and you’ve already dismissed this album, it’s not too late for you. Listen to it again, and drop any political expectations you might have, and drop England Keep My Bones, and just listen.
It’s such a personal album. This goes far and above what you expect when you hear the dismissive ‘break-up album’. There is sadness here, but there’s also bitterness, blame, resentment and remorse. A huge theme throughout the album is the permanent – scars, tattoos, wounds and ageing. Whether knowingly or incidentally, it’s clear that Turner is placing his relationship amongst these things. It’s become a part of his very person, and this collection of songs show it.
Turner captures the essence of love, of “finding the one damn person to help you fall asleep in the night”, and the essence of having it taken away from you. Plain Sailing Weather almost perfectly encapsulates it with some very clever vocal delivery. The line “I can see the way you’d fold your hands, speak my name like a curse upon your pretty lips, the pressured white behind your fingertips”. ‘A curse upon your pretty lips’ becomes a sentence within a sentence. It becomes a momentary outpouring of bitterness among the self hate. It’s beautiful, and it’s immensely personal, and it’s almost heart breaking in its publicity.
The resolve at the end of Tell Tale Signs is almost painfully deserving of that nomenclature, because, as well as being my musical highlight of the entire album (I really, really like it. Couldn’t tell you why), it shows an acceptance missing from the rest of the album.
I like the way Turner has gone all introspective. He’s gone into the past whilst writing this album. Both Oh Brother and Polaroid Picture are beautifully nostalgic. Polaroid Picture is the lyrical highpoint of the record, and the lyrics are almost painfully relatable. “I just need a little time to take a little time with today. To savour all the triumph and tragedy, before it slips away.”
In fact, the entire record is relatable. Turner wasn’t afraid to be completely candid with his thoughts and his feelings, and it makes it an almost universal experience.
I also find myself feeling the need to completely disagree with myself on some points. I gave Broken Piano stick simply because it wasn’t what I was expecting. That was unkind. It’s probably the most beautiful song on the album. Four Simple Words, inversely, was what I was expecting. But in hindsight it doesn’t really fit with the album, and is now my least favourite track when I’m listening through. I also find myself now skipping the bonus tracks, saving them for when I’m listening to Turner’s catalogue as a whole. The album is fine at its original length.
I’d like to apologise for the writing here – I’m pretty sure it’s awful. This hasn’t been planned out at all, and I’ve just been writing things as they pop into my head. As such, I’m sure it’s horribly disjointed and absent of any coherent flow. Apologies.
- Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart (allofthetime.wordpress.com)