Strathclyde Telegraph

Album Review: Frank Turner – Positive Songs for Negative People

By Fraser Bryce

Frank Turner is a strange one: an Eton educated hardcore punk singer that has turned his attention to playing folk-punk music. Not your standard musician then. His solo career has been extremely successful, with sold out arena gigs and a performance at the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony under his belt, and his last album, ‘Tape Deck Heart’, hitting number 2 in the UK charts, the follow-up to which has been highly anticipated.

And here is said follow-up, the fantastically titled Positive Songs for Negative People. Produced by Butch Walker of Fall Out Boy/Taylor Swift fame, the album heralds a more positive direction than the last album, with the songs focussing on self-improvement and removing negativity from your life. This direction is perhaps best identified in the two singles ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Next Storm’, which marry Turner’s typically brilliant lyrics with pounding rock beats and choruses destined for stadiums. In fact, this album tends to focus on Turner’s anthemic side more, with the massive, gang vocal refrain on ‘Josephine’ and the Bruce Springsteen-esque ‘Glorious You’ eclipsing the more restrained material like ‘Mittens’.

And that’s where the problem with this album lies. It’s far too up and down. While the aforementioned singles and the rousing ‘Demons’ are among the best songs Turner has ever committed to record, songs like ‘Love Forty-Down’ and the pseudo punk of ‘Out of Breath’ are a bit of a wet fart in comparison. Luckily, the good outweighs the okay on this album, with the stripped back opener of ‘The Angel Islington’ and the Britpop-esque ‘Silent Key’ proving to be great songs. The record ends on a high as well, with the heart-wrenching ‘Song for Josh’, written about a security guard at Washington’s 9:30 Club, and friend of Turner’s, who committed suicide. The fact that it’s a live recording from the 9:30 Club makes it even more poignant.

So, Frank Turner’s 6th album isn’t his best, but it’s far from his worst. I’d recommend getting the special edition, which contains acoustic versions of 10 of the albums songs, as this brings out just how brilliantly written the record’s high points are, and even highlights some great moments in the weaker songs. So, ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’ is a grower but, with time, I think some of it will be regarded as his best work.

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