Review : Frank Turner - Rock and Roll
SputnikmusicI like to think that most of us here on Sputnik Music view music as an integral part of the human experience. Especially how it can embody an ethos in ways that are almost impossible to explain unless experienced through it. Frank Turner understands the salvation that music can bring. “I Still Believe”, the lead off track on his Rock & Roll EP, proudly exclaims “And now who'd have thought that something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all?” It's rapturous. Part nostalgia, part reverence, “I Still Believe” is a modern hymnal for those of us raised under the influence of one of the greatest cultural phenomenons of the last 60 years and whose house of worship lies not in a brick and mortar establishment but in our stereos and concert halls.
On Rock & Roll, Frank does more than share his own musical gospel, he shares his life. “The Next Round” is achingly gut wrenching. While lines like “I'm not quite thirty but feel like I'm dying” are as melodramatic as they are crushing, the most damning aspect of the song is Frank lamenting “I drink be cause I want to, because I need to, because I don't know what to do... with my time,” and that “Of all the things that I could become a lonely drunkard isn't one I would have wished when I was young”. When stood up against “I Still Believe” it makes both songs even more convincing as he shows why he needs his salvation. “Rock & Roll Romance” is the closest Frank has come to writing an honest to goodness love song since “To Take You Home” from his 2006 sophomore album, Love Ire & Song, and true to his character it is bittersweet. It's gentle fingerpicked chords and endearingly hushed vocals recall Mike Kinsella's Owen project as it paints what could have been before showing the portrait of a romance that is torn and hung in a broken frame.
On Frank Turner's last album, 2009's Poetry of the Deed, there was a crass but poignant line in the song “Try This At Home” stating that “There's no such thing as rock stars, there's just people who play music/ And some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks.” Frank Turner is definitely one of “us”. A man that bleeds. A person with follies and foibles. The kind of person that is just glad to be alive and makes the best of his given circumstance. How do I know this? Well, it's rather obvious if you listen to his music. It's not often that a songwriter comes along that not only gives his listeners a chance to view the inner workings of his soul, but is also able to express his own situation so clearly and in a way that resounds so personally to everyone in earshot. It's a lovely rapport that Frank has built with his fans. For proof of this just see Frank live as a packed house breathes in his words and exhales them back out at the top of their lungs with the same passion and conviction as if they themselves had penned them....full text
TheskinnyEvolving from bitter, acoustic punk – from tracks Thatcher Fucked the Kids and Once We Were Anarchists to the mellowness of the former Million Dead frontman’s more recent work – Rock & Roll picks up where last year’s Poetry of the Deed album left off; rockabilly charm combined with a more driven, if less aggressive palette.
On first listen Rock & Roll Romance lags as Turner's down-tempo songs often do, while The Next Round appears a retread of Love, Ire and Song without the furious sentiment, until you hit 3.34 mins and realise the man's still got it. While the constant dedications to his own faceless friends may grate, repeated plays prove Rock & Roll another slow burner. [Ali Ryland]...full text
HangoutFollowing an incredible year of touring everywhere, playing to overflowing festival crowds, supporting Green Day at Wembley Stadium and winning a prestigious Kerrang! Award, Frank Turner has found a few days to record a five track EP in time for Christmas.
The 'Rock & Roll EP' begins with lead track, and astoundingly popular live anthem, 'I Still Believe'. It's a call to arms for those who are enraptured by the simplicity and power of "guitar and drums and desperate poetry". The riotous gang of audience voices shouting the title back at Frank, spliced into the EP having been recorded from a summer of teeming festival crowds, tells you all you need to know about this soon-to-be signature song.
All recorded at The Church Studios in Crouch End in a mere three days, and produced by Tristan Ivemy who mixed Frank's second album Love Ire & Song, the four remaining songs 'Pass It Along', 'To Absent Friends', 'Rock & Roll Romance' and 'The Next Round' will remain exclusive to this release. 'I Still Believe' will appear on next year's anticipated album due for Spring with Frank set to begin recording in January.
The video to 'I Still Believe' sees a dashing bunch of 1920s-30s socialites witness Frank and his band (Ben, Tarrant, Matt and Nigel) stampede through the song in rip-roaring, devil-may-care style, as is their wont. Frank also got a tattoo of the track title on his arm, live on set, adding to his already ink-addled frame. Stills from the video can be found here: Ben Morse Photography...full text
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