I’ve been something of a Frank Turner fan for so long that I can no longer remember when or how it started. There’s a bunch of likely sources but there’s no way I could tell you for sure. And yet, to be honest, up to this point, it’s mostly just a bunch of his songs that have caught my fancy, shiny gems scattered across a slew of his albums. This one here is the first of his albums that I’ve loved through and through.
Frank Turner cut his teeth in a few bands, most notably post-hardcore band Million Dead, before striking out in his own in 2005. Almost from the beginning, he has been backed up on the road and in the studio by The Sleeping Souls, made up of members of Dive Dive, whom Turner had befriended while out on tour. He has become known as a folk punk singer/songwriter, whose lyrics are informed, intelligent, often socio-political in nature, and so much fun to sing or shout along with. I’ve likened him to a younger Billy Bragg and the similarities go beyond those already mentioned and the English accent that he refuses to let go of while singing. He is also very passionate, usually angry sounding, which gives a bit more of an edge than Bragg, not that this is better or worse.
“Be more kind” is Frank Turner’s seventh studio long player and marks a bit of a shift for him. The title and really, the ethos for album was inspired by a line in the poem “Leçons des Ténèbres” by Clive James, which suggests that poet found out too late that he should’ve been more kind. As soon as I read about this, I searched out the poem myself because it’s an idea that I love. That of kindness in the face of all this madness we are facing. And though, Turner hesitates to call the album a political one, I would say it would almost be impossible for someone like him not to write about what he sees happening, especially as his own personal life has moved towards happiness.
I’m doing something a little different for my three picks for you and this album. Rather than describe the sound or lyrical content of the songs, I’m going to provide a chunk of lyric for each. Because primarily, I try to keep politics out of this blog (though it’s hard with artists like this) and secondly, I couldn’t possible say it better than Frank. Enjoy…
…And yeah… be more kind.
“1933”: “If I was of the greatest generation, I’d be pissed. Surveying the world that I built slipping back into this, I’d be screaming at my grandkids: ‘We already did this’. Be suspicious of simple answers. That shit’s for fascists and maybe teenagers. You can’t fix the world if all you have is a hammer. The first time it was a tragedy. The second time is a farce. Outside it’s 1933 so I’m hitting the bar.”
“Make America great again”: “Well I know I’m just an ignorant Englishman but I’d like to make America great again. So if you’ll forgive my accent and the cheek of it, here’s some suggestions from the special relationship. Let’s make America great again by making racists ashamed again. Let’s make compassion in fashion again. Let’s make America great again.”
“Be more kind”: “History’s been leaning on me lately. I can feel the future breathing down my neck. And all the things I thought were true when I was young, and you were too, turned out to be broken and I don’t know what comes next. In a world that has decided that it’s going to lose its mind, be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.”
Check back next Friday for album #1. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:
10. David Byrne “American utopia”
9. James “Living in extraordinary times”
8. The Limiñanas “Shadow people”
7. The Essex Green “Hardly electronic”
6. Colter Wall “Songs of the plains”
5. Middle Kids “Lost friends”
4. Spiritualized “And nothing hurt”
3. Nap Eyes “I’m bad now”
You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.