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Frank Turner - Be More Kind | Album Review

May 3, 2018

 

 

A slightly calmer beginning than expected opens up Frank Turner’s latest outing Be More Kind with 'Don’t Worry', but the anthemic drum/clap combination makes it instantly memorable as a track that is sure to go down well in the middle of a live set. It strikes as a slightly odd choice for an album opener and it feels that its eponymous message would work better as a light-hearted note at the end. However, it's certainly reminiscent of 2015’s Positive Songs for Negative People; just as 'Get Better' suddenly brings the album into life there, '1933' does the same for Be More Kind. Instantly a rock and roll protest song classic, the lyrics immediately strike a chord with anyone who has been watching the “tragedy/farce” striking the western world politically since 2016. You simply must have a great deal of respect for his bravery at performing such a song in the current political climates of the UK and US. “Don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn” is perhaps the first major line of the album that everyone, politicians and public alike, should take note of.

 

'Little Changes' brings another effective stylistic change reminiscent of Turner’s earlier work, pairing a happy melody with more cynical lyrics in a way he has always done well in his songwriting, as he subtly criticises the feeble futility of “thoughts and prayers”. The title track is then another instant favourite, and one that I think everyone should be able to connect with in some way as Turner implores his listeners to “Be More Kind”; a lesson that everyone in the world irrespective of background or politics needs to learn. It is a gentle song of forgiveness that does well as the album’s title track, as well as showing off how much more mature Turner’s songwriting has developed in recent years.

 

Some may have mixed opinions of 'Make America Great Again' though; whilst you can not help to appreciate the message he attempts to convey with the song, others may not feel that the heavily synth and electronica-influenced accompaniment works at all, especially with how artificial the vocal part sounds throughout. 'Brave Face' managed to regain my attention though as another hopeful rock anthem that we can see working well live, before a reworking of 'There She Is' from last year’s 'Songbook' compilation album. 'Twenty First Century Survival Blues' is also immediately far more engaging than lead single 'Blackout', despite the latter having been shared as a single on Turner’s social media recently. Perhaps it is just synth-pop inspired structured and symphonies may deter establisher listeners considering they feel slightly slightly unnecessary to the song despite how different they may be from Turner’s usual style. However, you can't help but commend him for experimenting and pushing his boundaries still, but on this occasion it may not work and compliment the track to it's fullest potential. However, where such constructs does work though, by hell the album certainly impresses.

 

'Common Ground' explores themes similar themes to the album’s title track, and whilst it’s not so much of an instant classic, the lyrics of forgiveness remain definitely worth thinking about – especially as this is written mere days after peace is achieved in the Korean peninsula, it seems particularly poignant. Overall, the album was still as enjoyable a listen as veteran fans would have hoped it would be. The songwriting is certainly more diverse than Turner has displayed in the past, with some of the same messages as well as an exploration of new territories. Whilst some elements were admittedly more experimental, it's still worthy of your time. 

 

Score: 7.5/10

 

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