Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Tape Deck Heart
Label: Xtra Mile Recordings / Interscope
There are artists in every generation that can build bridges between fans of different genres. It has to do with some innate quality in their music that universally binds people together, may it be through their storytelling or how their music is genuinely well crafted. England’s Frank Turner has been working hard over the years developing his craft, pushing his unique blend of folk punk to new heights and creating truly memorable music. Turner’s newest album, Tape Deck Heart, is another fantastic addition to an already amazing discography.
One of the things that will always set Frank Turner apart from the rest of his peers is the absolutely incredible arrangements and production on his albums. They’ve only increased with age, and this album is no different. Using a wide variety of instruments, Tape Deck Heart creates a wonderful wall of sound throughout the entirety of the album. Right from the first track, “Recovery,” we get to hear a loud ruckus of a rock track, but then not two songs later in “The Way I Tend To Be,” we get a smooth, laid back song that screams to be listened to on late Summer nights. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic musicianship of Frank’s band, The Sleeping Souls, because they really tie all of these tracks together. I must say, Tape Deck Heart comes out really strong on the a-side of this record, which in turn makes the back half a little less memorable. This is not a slight against the songs towards the end of the record, because they’re honestly quite good. But the first seven songs are so strong that I find myself only wanting to listen to them. I know my love for the last five will come in time, but the accessibility of the others does not allow that to happen right now. Maybe it’s because the last songs on the album are generally slower, and the openers got me way too amped up, but I think simple changes in what tracks are where on the album would fix that problem immediately.
When I first started falling in love with Frank Turner it was because of his lyrics. They’re honest, down to earth, and relatively self-aware. Tape Deck Heart is Frank’s most honest work to date, getting down to some really serious, and sometimes taboo, subjects. “Tell Tale Signs” is one of the most raw songs lyrically that I’ve heard in a really long time, relating the story of a lost love to the scars of his youthful depression. I found this song incredibly powerful, and honestly it’s hard to listen to. I keep listening because there is something to be said about listening to songs that make you feel sad, but from a completely objective perspective this song is really heavy. I’m going to go back to “The Way I Tend To Be” because lyrically I think it’s brilliant and the laid back but flawless delivery by Frank is what makes this song truly great. Frank never skips a beat on this album when he sings, but if you’ve been listening to him for a while you already know this to be the case. As a side note, I would go out of your way to buy the deluxe edition of Tape Deck Heart because the six bonus tracks are also absolutely fantastic. “We Shall Not Overcome” is a gorgeous song, and it kind of bums me out that he didn’t choose to include this on the actual record.
Is Tape Deck Heart the best album in Frank Turner’s catalog? I think it depends on who you ask. Personally, my answer would be no. England Keep My Bones will always be one of my favorite albums, and that’s because of the emotional memories I tied to it. But saying that Tape Deck Heart isn’t as great as another record in his discography is kind of stupid, because emotional investments should not be the basis of review. However I will say one thing: it doesn’t really matter which album you think is the best, because every single record Frank has put out is better than any mainstream record that is currently being spun on both mainstream and alternative radio stations. He continuously without fail puts out records that make others look absolutely silly, and with Tape Deck Heart Frank once again solidifies himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Review written by: Tyler Osborne