I fear Frank Turner has lost his mojo. That thing that makes him different to every other yawn-inducing front man. That edge, that bit that’s rough around the edges, that gravelly rock and roll. His fifth album Tape Deck Heart is lacking some lust.
It all starts off fairly well. Slightly predictable, Turner is again at a trendy party in “some flat in East London” contemplating life’s big questions. Despite this, the opening track Recovery is catchy and sounds nice. Losing Days also sounds nice. The same goes for the following track (The Way I Tend To Be). And No.5 (Good & Gone), No.6 (Tell Tale Signs) and No.8 (Polaroid Picture). All of them tick every signature Turner box, acoustic-y/folk-y, sometimes a shout-y bit is thrown in for good measure. Lyrics generally focus on lost loves, London landmarks and troubled youth.
However, fourth track Plain Sailing Weather with its anthem of a chorus, heavy guitar and lyrics you can’t help but believe turns it up a notch. Then seventh track Four Simple Words is incredible. A properly punk anthem it’s Turner at his best. The last four tracks are down-tempo and nothing to write home about.
It’s a good album, Turner can still write good songs. But there’s nothing risqué, there’s nothing new and it’s lacking a bit of punch.
But, all hope is not yet lost. After watching Turner play the new tracks live, sweaty, sweary and loud, whilst backed by his band The Sleeping Souls that punch is there. The just-about-to-lose-my-voice thing, the rough around the edges sound of the live stage makes it all punk rock again. And his mojo returns.
Ultimately, Tape Deck Heart is a bit cliché, a bit too safe and probably just a bit over produced. Three stars out of five. But the live show? A full five.