Review: Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People

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Rousing

Energetic, rousing, and overwhelmingly positive, Frank Turner’s sixth solo album is one to scream at the top of your lungs when you’re having a bad day.

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From the opening ceremony of the London Olympics to selling out the O2 arena, Frank Turner has come a long way since ditching the post-hardcore scene ten years ago, picking up the acoustic guitar and defining the folk-punk genre he now dominates. His brand of anthemic stadium rock has sent the fans flocking; the defiant Positive Songs For Negative People is the Hampshire-born singer-songwriter’s sixth solo album, and is a drastic move away from the break-up that defined 2013’s Tape Deck Heart.

Those familiar with Frank Turner’s previous works will know the drill by now. The album will open with an acoustic track, circa ‘Eulogy’ from England Keep My Bones, before diving straight into the lead singles from the record, such as ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ and ‘Photosynthesis’ from Love Ire & Song. Positive Songs For Negative People is no different; ‘The Angel Islington’ the acoustic opener, with thunderous singles ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Next Storm’ following after.

One thing Frank Turner cannot be accused of is lack of emotion. His albums act almost as an open diary, and here in the latest entry, Turner is recovering from the break-up that haunted Tape Deck Heart, by writing rousing choruses that just need to be screamed at the top of your voice. “We can get better/Because we’re not dead yet”; this is Frank Turner on the top of his game, with uplifting tracks that leave you feel ready to tackle any problem the day may throw at you.

As the album continues, so does the classic formula that has served so well in the past. ‘The Opening Act of Spring’ could fit nicely on 2011’s England Keep My Bones, and if you’re a fan of analogies and metaphors, you’re in for a treat with both ‘Mittens’ and ‘Love Forty Down’, whilst ‘Out of Breath’ is the ‘heavier’ track on the record, think ‘Imperfect Tense’ from Love Ire & Song.

Even when the album takes a turn in the final tracks, with closing song ‘Song For Josh’ written about the suicide of friend Josh Burdette, and recorded at the club in which he worked, it remains surprisingly uplifting, a celebration of life, written in a way only Turner could.

However, despite the similarities to previous albums, the appeal of Frank Turner is still there. A look at his Instagram page and you’ll notice he has recently surpassed his 1700th show as solo artist, proving the singalong choruses remain popular. But something doesn’t necessarily sit right with this record; it’s not a bad album by any means, but there is proof on previous records that he can do better.

For now though, Positive Songs For Negative People is a good, solid album; not quite as deep and as touching as some of Turner’s previous works, notably 2008’s Love Ire & Song, but a record that will grow and come into its own. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be next week, but there will be a time when you’re having a bad day and you stumble upon Positive Songs For Negative People. With a sharp intake of breath, you’ll belt out the anthemic choruses, realise the best is yet to come, and fully appreciate this record.

Positive Songs For Negative People is out now via Xtra Mile.

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Politics student and head of all things musical at Surge Radio. Doesn't understand youth culture. Refers to himself in third person (he doesn't really).

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