There are a lot of great storytellers in the world. For over fifteen years as a solo artist, Hardcore kid and childhood Heavy Metal devotee Frank Turner has mined the considerable depths of his life experience to bring his raw delivery, and his unique take on the human condition. His transparent honesty as a person and artist has earned him a lot of love from fans, and respect in general from his peers. At the end of the day, he’s just a regular guy, sharing his story. Much like the rest of us, but sorting it out one verse, one song, one album at a time.

At times FTHC (Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records) is a return to Frank’s roots in his early hardcore days: untetherered raging manifestos with one fist in the air and one one hand open, picking up a kid that fell down dancing in mosh pit. Other times we hear the folksy singer – songwriter; singing his heart out. Other times we catch the introspective, keenly self-aware balladeer. A broken soul, but mostly upbeat and trying to find the silver lining through life’s bitter disappointments. At all times he is trying to make sense of this world, fighting through the tears, and cutting through the pain towards self-acceptance. Lots of singers try to do these things because they are told they are supposed to. Turner actually does it and effortlessly so.

Opening with the ripping Punk of ‘Non-Serviam’ we are treated to furious Frank shredding his lungs with every word and a heavy, but not overly heavy cascade of riffage! It’s here and gone in an instant, but it’s the vibe we needed right now! Second track ‘The Gathering’ is a raucous rock song with poignant lyrics and hearing Frank’s subtle harmonies with himself will make your hair stand on end. This track is also beautifully arranged and highlights the entire band, from ear-candy piano parts to a ripping guitar solo. Well done!

At his self-deprecating best with his confessional/observational wordplay, the has been a cornerstone of his art as writer. The cleverly titled ‘Untained Love’, the uptempo but brutally emotional ‘Fatherless,’ the raging rocker ‘My Bad’ and sad but peppy ‘Miranda’ all fill this cup.

The album’s centerpiece is ‘A Wave Across The Bay.’ Written for his friend Scott Hutchison of the band Frightened Rabbit, who took his own life in 2018, it is a brutal, beautiful farewell to a friend. While the song is extremely raw and heavy feeling, the chiming guitars, angelic backing vocals, and faint pastoral chord changes feel oddly uplifting. If you’ve ever lost anyone close to you in a similar manner, you will find it hard on repeat listens to enjoy this song without weeping openly, as this writer did.

Just like a Shakespearian play, Frank knows the audiences can only bear so much heartache at once, so the next few tracks are more uplifting and PMA driven. None of this next batch of tracks overstays their welcome too long, with ‘Perfect Score’ and its quirky Dinosaur Jr. style riffs and heroic Foo Fighters-esqe chorus making for a winning pairing.

The album closer ‘Farewell To My City’ starts with a narration and goes from a simmering boil, erupting into a triumph of a final track. If you’ve ever walked this walk, you already know. Frank is describing his journey, but you feel like he is singing your life story in songs made just for you. There are few higher compliments to be earned in all of music.

There are a lot of great storytellers in the world. Give thanks to whatever higher power you ascribe to, if any, that we lived in the time of Frank Turner.


Buy the album here

9 / 10