Folk punk singer/songwriter Frank Turner doesn’t seem to understand the concept of rest. Despite the fact his last album was 2015’s ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, he’s since toured consistently with his band The Sleeping Souls, released a collection of reworked older tracks entitled ‘Songbook’ last year, as well as playing some explosive reunion shows with hardcore side-project, Möngöl Hörde.
On top of all that, he’s been working hard on new material, culminating in the release of his seventh effort, ‘Be More Kind’. Phew! Where oh where do you find the time, Frank?
Opening track ‘Don’t Worry’ is a chirpy little number about overcoming anxiety and dread, and its gentle strumming melody and hand clapped rhythm sound like it could have been written by Ed Sheeran if, y’know, Ed Sheeran was good.
There’s a quick change of pace on ‘1933’ though, which is a return to Turner‘s punky roots with his trademark shout and witty, acerbic lyrics – “Don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn.”
‘Little Changes’ is a delightfully summery, poppy anthem that’s sure to go down a treat live, before a change of tack comes in the form of the album’s title track, ‘Be More Kind’. Inspired by a line in a Clive James poem, it’s melodic and heartfelt, with gentle guitars and well placed string sections. ‘Make America Great Again’ is another highlight, with a soaring sing-a-long chorus, and sees Turner making an unabashed return to political topics as he takes a swipe at US President Donald Trump.
It’s a very strong start to the album, and it has to be said that the second half of the album is considerably weaker. ‘There She Is’ is a forgettable love song that lacks the charm of ‘Going Nowhere’, which is in a similar vein, whilst closing track ‘Get It Right’ is a ballad with a nice message, but ultimately it feels anti-climactic. It’s like the album runs out of steam.
That being said, ’21st Century Survival Blues’ is possibly the strongest track on the album. A witty and melancholic apocalyptic journey, it feels like old school Turner at his best.
It’s not his finest work by any means, but that’s difficult when your back catalogue is as impressive as Frank Turner‘s. ‘Be More Kind’ is a versatile, hopeful, and enjoyable record that’s easy to listen to and perfect for sunny days. Stick it on, roll those windows down, and let’s hope for a long hot summer.