(Warning: Album has two tracks that discuss suicide.)
Help the ones in need
Do your best to leave the others be
Doubt yourself and keep your mind open
Navigate the progress and the scams
- Frank Turner "Non Serviam" - FTHC 2022
I joined the cult of Frank Turner when I first heard him sing the line "I'm Napoleon on Elba and you're a hundred days in 1815" as part of his song Josephine from his 2015 album Positive Songs for Negative People. Since then I have happily consumed his work and enjoyed high quality music centred around intelligent, reflective, relevant and emotionally charged lyrics. In February 2022, Turner released his ninth, and in my opinion best, studio album FTHC (Frank Turner Hardcore). Although the title and first track imply an album full of his punk rock roots, the following tracks are actually a pleasant mix of rock and blues and pop with the "hardcore" element being Turner's heart and soul and life experiences fully exposed and worked through in public. While often that would be a recipe for pretentiousness, Turner expresses a down-to-earth and relatable to many worldview shaped by life changes due to COVID isolation, anxiety, self-doubt and the realization that that plans and perceptions about oneself aren't going to always work out as we hoped....And that's ok.
The track "The Gathering" is a great rock-bluesy post COVID anthem reminding us of the power of community and humanity in the simple act of gathering together.
The song that has received much media attention from this album is a song Frank wrote about his trans-gender father "Miranda" and the possibility of relationships healing and how do we react to a wish that someone in our life would change.
I have always appreciated Turner's take on love and romance and it is highlighted in this album on the track "The Work" in which the tedium of life with a long-term partner and the actual work of maintaining a shared domestic space and keeping respect is highlighted as the cement of love and partnership. "It's the work that makes it worth it, The work won't make it perfect, But the work will make it worth it"
The album is an emotional ride framed around principles of love and respect and care for others while recognizing that there is great danger in taking ourselves too seriously. Lines such as "We're all just kids someone let loose into the world Waiting for someone to explain the rules" and "Guys who look like me, Ruined the country, Their hatred and greed, I feel guilty, That's why I won't try, To tell anybody, How to live a life, You've heard enough from me, You've heard enough from guys who look like me" are performed honestly and in an up-tempo that will ear-worm while your mind works over the meanings for life.
Best track is "Haven't Been Doing So Well" a crazy rock pop beat addressing the anxiety of unfulfilled inner expectations. I don't know how Turner creates something that makes you want to dance and find hope while hearing these lines, but its what makes me love him: Don't you ever wake up and suspect
That you were simply never cut out to be
The kind of person they expect
The person you intended to be?
And I keep it all in with my idiot grin
And I'm doing my best but there's very little left
So cut me some slack if I crawl back into my shell
I haven't been doing so well
Couldn't you tell?
- Frank Turner "Haven't Been Doing So Well"
Album is available at local libraries - via hoopla at KPL and hoopla and CD at WPL.