“Tape Deck Heart” – Frank Turner

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Hardcore punk rocker Frank Turner is back with his fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart. Initially the vocalist of a hardcore band, Frank bases most of his solo work around acoustic-centered folk punk, and his past four albums have shown that this is a very successful approach. Tape Deck Heart is no exception to the formula, and much like his other records, you can hear the underlying hardcore influence on many of the tracks.

The album opens with what I believe could be the song of the year, “Recovery.” It is tells the inspiring tale of someone’s shattered life, and how love could help him put the pieces back together. The chord progression is incredibly infectious, and the bridge really shows off Frank’s vocal range. It’s just a fun tune to dance to honestly. The music video shows what I mean pretty well. “Losing Days” follows up the opening track very nicely with a bit more pop, and the harmonies highlight the catchy melody. If it already wasn’t obvious after the first two songs, this album was written following a long-term breakup, so a good portion of the songs are about loss, failure, and running out of time. However, occasionally there will be a song or two with a glimmer of hope (as with the opening track). “The Way I Tend To Be” has some of this positivity, and it slows things down a bit, though it keeps the same mood.

After an exceptional three-track opening combination, you begin to settle into the album. Frank then gets very dark with “Plain Sailing Weather” as he screams, “So give me one fine day of plain sailing weather, And I can fuck up anything, anything.” This track shows how Turner can take some very overused chord progressions and make them sound original with his own unique perspective. After two standard Frank Turner jams, you arrive at “Four Simple Words,” the biggest standout on the album. It starts off slow and romantic, gets a bit of a country vibe, and then all of a sudden transforms into a punk song. After a great deal of aggression, the song goes into a honky-tonk  old Western bar-esque bridge, and once again ends on a punk rock note. This tune is sure to be a big crowd pleaser at future Frank Turner concerts. The album ends a bit strangely with a very slow, droning song called “Broken Piano,” reminiscent of Explosions In The Sky. The Explosions-sounding riff doesn’t even start until three and a half minutes into the song, so it does get a bit hard to stay interested.

All in all, Frank Turner has always put out excellent albums, and Tape Deck Heart continues this tradition. The only negative thing to be said about this record is that most of the good songs seem to be squeezed into the first half, and many of the later songs are easily forgettable, though they are all decently good tunes. If you’re into acoustic-based folk punk, then I would definitely recommend this album. If you’ve never heard of Frank Turner, I would suggest starting off with some of his earlier hits, such as “Photosynthesis” off of Love Ire & Song and “Peggy Sang The Blues” off of England Keep My Bones (arguably Frank’s best album).

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: Recovery, Four Simple Words, Losing Days, Plain Sailing Weather

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