Be More Kind sees Frank Turner excel in new sonic territory
Frank Turner – Be More Kind (Xtra Mile Recordings)
Genre – Folk punk
Much has been made of Frank Turner’s conscious effort to enter new sonic territory, and the radical stylistic changes emitting from the early snap shots of Be More Kind. But, the truth is, Frank Turner hasn’t sold out. Yes, he’s entered into new territory, and yes, he has become a global star, but Be More Kind is more of a natural progression of a great songwriter, than a man turning his back on what has taken him to the top.
In the space of 11 years, Frank has gone from archetypical troubadour to electrifying showman armed with an arsenal of arena ready anthems. Be More Kind simply adds to his songbook, and proves a worthy successor for Positive Songs for Negative People, which itself brought some pretty radical changes with the introduction of the electric axe.
With Frank Turner’s music, fans have been treated to a subtle evolution between albums, but an evolution none the less. This evolution has been fast forwarded in his last two records, with Be More Kind speeding up the process further with the introduction of electronic effects on songs like Blackout and Let’s Make America Great Again.
But, effects or no effects, Frank Turner has stood strong to the core element that makes his music so grippingly fantastic – phenomenal wordplay. Unlike Positive Songs, Be More Kind sees Frank less intent on producing big hooks, and singalong choruses, and more focused on the clever wordplay that endeared him to music fans between 2008 and 2012.
This is particularly poignant in 21st Century Survival Blues, a brilliantly wordy, satirical number with a chorus of ‘I’ve got the 21st century survival blues; a generation raised up without paying its dues.’ This uplifting track lays down all the anger and frustration Frank Turner has displayed throughout his career, and pulls it together in a carefully arranged number with a dance-y edge.
For fans worried about the input of electronic sounds – don’t panic. There’s plenty to fall in love with immediately as the new sounds work their magic on you. Don’t Worry, 1933 and Going Nowhere are all rooted around his traditional six string approach, and each could slide effortlessly into Frank’s earlier body of work.
While Be More Kind contains a mix of new and previously trodden sonic territory, the habitual ‘messing things up’ remains a familiar constant. However, this time round, you get the feeling that the Little Changes have been made, and he is now singing from a much better place, as last year’s There She Is would testify to.
Be More Kind is likely to be the most pivotal album Frank Turner will ever release, and there is a strong sense that he has got the balance right between new and old. If this album is a commercial hit, it is likely to propel him on to even bigger things, but if not, his approach will not have alienated those who have supported him all these years.
Give this one a few listens before casting judgement – there’s much more to Be More Kind than meets the eye.
RUSHONROCK RATED – 9/10 Despite all I’ve done, I can learn; I CAN LEARN!
Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.