Frank Turner, Positive Songs for Negative People
Positive Songs for Negative People is the awaited sixth full-length album from UK punk poet Frank Turner. The album is a whole lot of everything, if that makes sense? The massive 22 track listing seems daunting at first, mainly because the last 11 are acoustic renditions of the first 11. Like a majority of Frank’s music, it is an acquired taste and to fully appreciate this album I believe you already have to be a Frank Turner fan.
The first track is poorly placed and establishes the album from a weird starting point. The stripped back atmosphere and sort of intentional imperfection though, does give it that little bit of character. From here on in it feels as every track is made to completely contrast the one that comes before it. The drums alone set a punk tone (with a few exceptions) for the first half of the album, as well as many songs featuring gang shouts and other tell-tale signs of his punk heritage. He definitely wanted a fast-paced, forceful sound on this album and the only songs that take on a different form don’t really involve much percussion.
Songs like Get Better, The Next Storm and Mittens have that signature Frank Turner, neither here nor there, no reason then out of there nowhere there’s rhyme; poetry ballad feel. Glorious You, Out of Breathe, Demons, Josephine have that melodic punk progression and it’s almost as if every song alludes to different sounds of other bands with Frank’s unique tone sort of thrown on top. I listen to the music and I hear Foo Fighters, then the second time I hear The Killers and then again bits of Bad Religion. Love Forty Down is an interesting track with a blend of a bunch of different sounds. Mumford & Sons will come to mind for most, but he somehow ends it on massive note far away from any sort of Mumford reference; which again I think has a lot to do with the drums. Something I always admired about Frank was how he can establish a song then change the direction of it so fluently. On first listen, this album did very little for me. I felt he tried to illustrate a punk rock atmosphere too much. For me Frank already stays true to this his roots in his lyrics, and the way he sings.
It’s almost as if he tried to create an album that completed this punk rock persona that he carries with him where he goes. If it wasn’t for the acoustic renditions that I initially thought unnecessary, the album wouldn’t serve the same purpose. The acoustic tracks did much more than compliment the originals, but complete them. You realise that these massive ballads consisting of piano, mandolin or whatever all stemmed initially from Frank and his guitar. It was almost as if Frank knew there would be mixed reactions that he felt the need to include these alternate versions to clarify his integrity has remained in-tact.
Again, as an avid Frank Turner fan, this album has grown on me quite a lot. He did the same thing to me with his last release “Tape-Deck Heart”. I thought he took a much more pop approach on his last album but his ability to tell a story that holds meaning still remains second to none, regardless of rhyme of rhythm.
Review by Travis Jordan