Leeds University Union
Tape Deck Heart
Xtra Mile Recordings, Interscope
Something crazy has happened to Frank Turner’s career over the past few years. Starting as a virtually unknown ex-singer from a hardcore punk band at the beginning of his solo career six years ago, Frank Turner has become a musician whose tours sell out in ten minutes, gets asked to play at the Olympic opening ceremony, and goes straight to number one in the album charts (currently) over more well-known singers like will.i.am. But then, Frank Turner isn’t an ordinary artist. There are still a lot of people who don’t know his music, but for those who do, he very often becomes a firm favourite.
the return of the Sleeping Souls to the stage brought with it the return of the passionate sing-alongs and enthusiasm
Friday night is show number 1372 in Turner’s long catalogue of live shows. This was the fifth time I’ve seen him play live, not an unusual amount for a singer with so many devoted fans who tours constantly. Turner opened with the ‘Four Simple Words’, a song from the new album with he debuted at Wembley Arena last year and has been around on YouTube since. A lot of people knew the words considering it was unreleased material. Turner played a lot of his biggest hits during the first half of his lengthy but fast-moving set, and his backing band the Sleeping Souls departed the stage to allow time for him to play some quieter songs. These weren’t as well-received, which was a shame as during his new song ‘Anymore’, there was a lot of background noise. But the return of the Sleeping Souls to the stage brought with it the return of the passionate sing-alongs and enthusiasm which was so evident in the whole room. There was a lot of sweaty dancing as well and everyone seemed like they were having a really good time. Turner played it rather safe in terms of playing new material, debuting only four songs from the 12-track record, and only one of those had not had a high level of internet circulation. However, this small taster was enough to give excitement for the record’s release three days later.
The fifth album, Tape Deck Heart, features a notable change in theme, taking a more serious, reflective tone, with perhaps a greater amount of mellow songs in comparison with previous releases. There is a notable lack of Turner’s speciality – tunes which are big happy sing-along numbers, with ‘Four Simple Words’ and leading single ‘Recovery’ perhaps being the only songs on the record fitting into this category. But in the place of these come a lot of songs with a new take lyrically and which are not like any other songs that Turner has written.
It’s exciting to see Turner’s songwriting pushing out of his comfort zone
The songs are more emotionally expressive than previously released ones, from the heartbreak tones of ‘Anymore’ and ‘Tell Tale Signs’ and the reminiscent ‘Polaroid Picture’ to the intensely building anger of ‘Plain Sailing Weather’. It’s exciting to see Turner’s songwriting pushing out of his comfort zone in such a manner, but it doesn’t always work. The closing track, ‘Broken Piano’, doesn’t do the rest of the album justice, in my opinion. There are a couple of others which don’t instantly appeal, but this feels unimportant when viewed alongside the impressiveness of the rest of the album. There are a lot of gems on this album; must-listens are ‘Four Simple Words’, ‘The Way I Tend To Be’, ‘Anymore’ and ‘Polaroid Picture’. Despite the reduction in big anthems designed to be played live, this album is brilliant and fans will see a whole new side to Turner’s songwriting as the album contains some of the most genuine, emotionally raw tracks he has ever recorded. This is another unforgettable album from Frank Turner which deserves to do incredibly well.
With such great songwriting and electric live shows, it’s clear the name ‘Frank Turner’ will remain for years to come.