Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart (2013)

Tape Deck Heart is a transition album for Frank Turner. Not only for his music career, but it seems like a transition album for himself too. When asked about the theme of this album, Turner said, “This album is about self-examination, running through your own faults, about change, and about ending. Something like that.” (Source:

Turner starts with his most adverse yet catchiest song to date, “Recovery,” an obvious good introduction into this album and discusses a lot of the themes Turner mentioned in that quote. “If you could just give me a sign, just a subtle little glimmer / Some suggestion that you'd have me if I could only make me better,” he sings in the third verse. It’s a happy sounding song hidden with Frank Turner’s painfully self-aware lyrics about being out of control and not knowing how to get out of it. The song musically, is a little boring and repetitive but these lyrics are what saves it.

Then, Turner gives you “Losing Days” and “The Way I Tend to Be” - two of his most beautifully recorded songs to date. The lyrics, again, are honest thoughts about getting older (“Oh my broken battered body / In the days when I was younger / Used to fix itself quick sharp after every slip and stumble / But these days I'm collecting scars that don't seem to fade / Cuts and bruises that won't go away” in “Losing Days”) doing things you’re not exactly proud of and wish you could take back (“But you stood apart in my calloused heart, and you taught me and here's what I learned / That love is about all the changes you make and not just three small words” in “Way I Tend To Be”) and of course, the future (“But I've survived too long for my side of the deal / and as I reach that shore I'm not sure how to feel” in “Losing Days”). While this record seems to embrace the positive sides of the problems I’ve mentioned, there are also some songs that are just dark, do not have a light at the end of the tunnel and that it’s okay it doesn’t (a common trend in Turner’s music). “Good and Gone,” “Anymore” and “Tell Tale Signs” are good examples of this. Instrumentally, these songs also seem to be very basic, and I think that’s on purpose since the lyrics really make these songs. Speaking of trends, are you seeing one about the lyrics?! You should probably just listen to Frank Turner in general, if you’re a fan of the craft of writing lyrics.

Anyway, another song that should be mentioned is “Four Simple Words,” which seems obvious that he wrote just to perform live which, given his recent set list from his current tour, is accurate! (It’s usually now the first song they perform to get the audience pumped.) The chorus reminds me a little bit of “Photosynthesis” from Love & Ire Song. It’s definitely his version of a party song and doesn’t disappoint as that.

Is this his best album? Not in my opinion but some of the songs on this album, as I’ve mentioned, are examples of Frank Turner’s growth as an artist, as a song writer and as a musician. So I’d say it’s pretty damn important in his discography and definitely should be listened to.

“What do you do when something that was supposed to be perfect comes to its natural end?” Tape Deck Heart is supposed to answer this question, according to the englishman himself in an interview with NME (source: ... hqOrP2s.99). Listening to Tape Deck Heart for almost a year now, the answer to this question seems to be: the hell if I know but here’s how I felt after it happened.