Top positive review
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Let's be radical thinkers who never have to test-drive the least of their dreams
on 25 April 2010
I was first introduced to Frank Turner by Love, Ire & Song's, title track, the album's dramatic centerpiece. Putting on an mp3 of the song I acquired from a friend a few months after the album's release in March 2008, I was surprised by how moved I found myself. Turner's rage against apathy, as exemplified in the heartfelt chorus of "Let's be young, let's be crass enough to care," was unlike anything I'd heard before. I searched on YouTube for more of his material, and discovered Reasons Not to Be An Idiot - an uplifting song which urges the listener to enjoy life rather than wallow in his own self-pity. As soon as I heard Frank sing the lines: "She's not as pretty as she thinks she is - just picture her after she's had kids! I bet she sits at home and listens to The Smiths..." I was sold.
I got the album soon after, which became the soundtrack of my summer - my fondest memory being listening to it on the walks I'd started taking. The quality of songwriting, as sampled by my first exposure, turned out to be constant throughout. Turner's songs often take a narrative form, and as such everything he writes tends to have a point, be it the lamentation of the past in Jet Lag, the refusal to resign oneself to a monotonous adulthood in Photosynthesis or the celebration of friendship in St. Christopher Is Coming Home. In a generation with such lyrical insights as "Oh oh oh, this sex is on fire," it was refreshing to discover an artist who actually has something to say.
If one word can best describe Turner, it's 'genuine'. Few other artists are so detached from any superficial musical scene or trend. Consequently it's hard to define his music - it's too epic to be folk, but too acoustic-based to be rock. Perhaps it's best just to describe it as heartfelt music produced by an ordinary, but nevertheless interesting and intelligent man. It's on account of his integrity that he's able to pull off a beautiful song such as Long Live the Queen, written about the death of a close friend, without appearing crass. Likewise, the incredible opener I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous could not have been written by any other artist. Beginning as a quiet pondering on everyday existence, the song eventually explodes and culminates with the potent statement, "The only thing that's left to do is live." Turner possesses the skill to take the simple aspects of contemporary life and turn them into a celebration.
Throughout the album, Frank covers pretty much the entire emotional spectrum - amusement, joy, anger, sadness, love and inspiration. The running theme throughout is that every song will make you feel something. It is for this reason that Frank Turner, and his fantastic second album, should be treated preciously.