2012 was a huge year for FrankTurner by anyone’s standards: riding on the success of fourth album England Keep My Bones, he was handpicked by Danny Boyle to perform at the Olympics Opening Ceremony, but not before he had sold out Wembley Arena a few months beforehand. The pressure on his latest effort Tape Deck Heart to continue this success then was high, and it doesn’t disappoint.
If England Keep My Bones was a love letter to England, Tape Deck Heart offers a much more personal insight into Turner; his heart is laid bare on this record, with the themes of loss of love and youth echoing strong throughout.
What Turner has done so brilliantly on this album, however, is to not to turn it into a collection of depressing love songs, but instead turn them into singalong anthems. Tracks such as Recovery and The Way I Tend To Be could easily have been written as simple ballads, but while still blunt and brutally honest, they’re fueled with optimism and catchy choruses.
Turner’s accompaniment band The Sleeping Souls are again on top form, but their presence is sadly missed when Turner goes solo. He also unfortunately slips into the occasional ballad on tracks like Anymore and The Fisher King Blues, which seem diminished in comparison when we’ve already seen that Turner is capable of so much more.
On the surface this album could be viewed as a simple break-up record, but peel back its exterior and you’ll find that it’s actually full of optimism, heart, and some of the best songwriting in rock. While Frank Turner is essentially sticking to the musical formula he concocted in England Keep My Bones, it’s lyrically where Tape Deck Heart stands apart, and shows that Turner’s talent as a songwriter and storyteller are second to none.