ALBUM REVIEW: Frank Turner – ‘Be More Kind’

9/10

Photo by Clair McAllister

“I should have been more kind. It is my fate/ To find this out, but find it out too late.” It is this solitary expression that inspired the progressive folk punk pioneer Frank Turner’s 7th studio album, ‘Be More Kind’– a 13 song offering that embraces the realism of the revulsion of today’s world, but nevertheless illustrates the evident underlying positivity that gives the population a sense of community, and keeps us all surviving.

The record opens with Don’t Worry, an unassuming yet effective arrangement with the undertones of a hearty gospel tune, that gives a simple and hard-hitting message, and is a perfect pre-cursor to 1933 – which is, by all means, the quintessential Frank Turner refrain. ‘You can’t fix the world if all you have is a hammer,’ is an incredibly powerful and truthful statement, which is, without doubt, highly referential to the current state of world leadership. And if you were in any doubt at all, Make America Great Again further attests to this, as the leader of the free world’s words are used against him with a punchy and inclusive memorandum – ‘Let’s make America great again / By making racists ashamed again.’ The radio-friendly theme continues with Blackout, a song that Frank openly states could be played in a club, born out of the requests he’s had for his own songs as he cultivates his DJing experience after his live shows.

While the record is predominantly overtaken with punchy upbeat arrangements, Be More Kind presents a reasonable portion of sombre melodies as well. The title track of the album is a perfect example, showcasing a soft arrangement that charmingly compliments Frank’s impeccable word choice, as he reassuringly states ‘But when you’re out there floundering, like a lighthouse I will shine / Be more kind my friends, try to be more kind.’ The onomatopoeia of The Lifeboat is similarly quite simply stunning, as the listener is led through a dark, haunting night with rocking waves, punctuated by the steady fall of precipitation, as one is warned to ‘Save what you can / Behind us the whole world is in flames.’

Frank has also continually been celebrated for his musical depictions of heartbreak, and how verse and chorus was for him, and no doubt many of his fans, an adequate replacement for the intimacy of another human being. Be More Kind, however, portrays a massive exodus from this conviction, as Turner has been settled for quite some time with his significant other, in the shape of his much-adored girlfriend. Brave Face, which is unquestionably going to hold a prominent live setlist position, outlines how he’s going to ‘make it to the end of the world’ as long as he has his partner by his side, regardless of the toils that may be encountered. The more obviously titled There She Is, which carries a flourishing dedication to his sweetheart in a live locale, is a beautiful building ballad, that grows from a lone vocal and beat, eventually thriving into a full band composition, encompassing the immense adoration a person can hold for their life partner.

Be More Kind is undoubtedly a courageous stride outside of Frank Turner’s melodic remit, although, as he openly admitted, after 6 studio albums, he was keen to alter his musical approach. This is most definitely an album that will lend itself more easily to the commercial airwaves, however, his relevant message and stunning lyrics persevere, making this a song collection that will not only pull in a whole new genre of follower, but will encourage those who pay attention to question their motives, and strive to understand their peers.