Frank Turner has returned with his long-awaited ninth-studio album, FTHC, or Frank TurnerHardcore, and I, for one, am stoked to see him get back to more of his hardcore punk roots. Frank has stated that his previous albums were a departure, and FTHC was "blowing the cobwebs away", "sonically raw", and "built to be played live". It's an exploration of Turners more personal issues from an aggressive edge.
Listeners get thrown face-first into Frank's thrashing, gut-punching, punk sound immediately with "Non Serviam" The track clocks in at under two minutes but is some serious pit fuel and stokes the misery we've all been feeling for the past year-plus: "I don't mean to be cagey about this, so I won't be: You gave up on your backbone so quickly it scares me. Cravenly praying you won't be the next victim, Wiping the blood of your friends on your lintels…."
Though "Haven't Been Doing So Well" sounds decidedly less rageful than its predecessor, it continues the album's theme of openly exploring emotional well-being during this hellscape of a time. Reminiscent of a Billy Bragg tune or some of Turner's US counterparts, the track uses upbeat and downright cheery guitar phrases to contrast, and therefore brings attention to the lyrics, ever-relatable and funnily enough, sung in such a bouncy way: "Don't you ever wake up and suspect that you were simply never cut out to be the kind of person they expect the person you intended to be. and I keep it all in with my idiot grin, and I'm doing my best, but there's very little left, So cut me some slack if I crawl back into my shell I haven't been doing so well…."
"Haven't Been Doing So Well" pulls the listener back down and brings a relatable comfort. We're all fucked up no matter the level of fame we've reached, and there's genuine quality and almost innocence to that concept and the track itself.
"Miranda" reckons with the abuses Frank dealt with during his teenage years at the hands of his father, who has now transitioned into a woman. The track is all about reconciliation, and it shows the split between what was and what is. The blues-reminiscent guitar phrases, paired with Turner's signature folk-punk acoustic guitar, seem incredibly appropriate for a song about releasing the past. The classic pop-punk breakdown before the final chorus & verse warms my heart.
What to say about "A Wave Across A Bay'? "God damn, I miss you, man. It was just weeks before you went that we were speaking. I just wish that you had told me you were leaving Before you walked your final mile. I'm not pissed off at you, man; You had something in your soul that we could recognize. You were one of us, but you worked out how you could survive. At least for a while…."
To reckon with losing one's dear friend & then to express that loss in an art form that you both shared is something I don't know if I could do. It is one of the most breathtaking and vast tracks I have heard in a long, long time. Multilayered and vivid and beautiful like a sunrise, I've played it on repeat and cried more times than I'd like to admit.
FTHC is like pressing in a bruise to feel the sting, the pain that reminds oneself that you're still alive. It's a sharp inhalation. It's the epitome of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours." It's Frank Turner in pure, unadulterated, raw form.
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