Music Reviews

“Folk Punk Has Never Sounded So Good” – Album Review: Frank Turner – ‘FTHC’

Alex Tearle 

After speaking with Frank Turner earlier in January, I was excited to get my teeth into ‘FTHC’, which I was fortunate enough to have early access to. The record is varied, exciting and vibrant, showcasing Turner’s exceptional lyricism in both high octane and sincere tracks. ‘FTHC’ provides a well-rounded and enjoyable listening experience. During our interview Turner noted the album was, “designed to be enjoyed live”, but let me reassure you, it sounds fantastic through headphones too. As Alex Tearle explains, this is a really exciting start to 2022.

The opening track Non Serviam is an exceptional introduction to ‘FTHC’, bound to get you up on your feet before the lyrics even start. Turner’s vocal range is instantly shown here, the shouting introduction giving way to quick and poetic verses that feel incredibly well written and realised.

Lyricism is a particular strongpoint of ‘FTHC’, especially with tracks like A Wave Across a Bay, with Turner writing at his absolute best. There’s particular beauty in lyrics like: “…When you were filled with a sense of peace and understanding / With the wind in your hair and a light in your eyes / As you realized you were finally escaping…” lines that are particularly poignant when considering the themes of the album: mental health, fatherhood and substance abuse.

these tracks are a great development on Turner’s well known sound

‘FTHC’ succeeds in bringing about discussion of very difficult topics in a heartfelt way – an intelligent style that has clearly been developed over the prior 8 albums. These tracks are a great development on Turner’s well known sound and it is clear he knows what he’s doing in producing a record that feels like a success story. This album will undoubtedly cement itself as a fan favourite.

The guitar progression here and indeed throughout the album is well written and structured. The impressive duo of Turner and Ben Lloyd play flawlessly throughout the record, delivering quality riffs and solos over and over again. The beginning riff of Miranda is a prime example of this, feeling very satisfying to hear, backed with an excellent base line from Tarrant Anderson – proving itself to be one of the best tracks on the album. There is a particularly interesting melodic section in the background of Punches too, heightening an already catchy song with a showcase of talent.

a true masterclass in song writing

The riffs don’t always need to be complex to be entertaining though, with Perfect Score featuring a simple but very well written progression that forms a perfect backing to Turner’s lyrics. It’s almost enough to make a listener miss the more melancholic themes of Turner’s words. It’s the range of skills that Turner almost effortlessly exhibits that make this record particularly impressive to me, a true masterclass in song writing.

Though Non Serviam is shouty and punky, Little Life could easily be at home on a Coldplay record, an impressive feat that showcases the talent and diversity of ‘FTHC’. The send-off Farewell To My City is one of my favourite tracks, with Turner commenting on the development of the album’s themes in a particularly satisfying fashion. For me, it summarises the record well.

I can’t help but feel as if it would have benefitted from a ruthless cut and perhaps the release of a collector’s edition

‘FTHC’ feels like an homage to some of the best albums of the 2000s. It’s rife with power chords and has a deeply nostalgic feel, especially with tracks like Untainted Love and Fatherless, which sound both familiar and satisfying, the mark of a very successful formula.

Arguably though, this could be a criticism of ‘FTHC’, it can feel a bit formulaic. The album is an impressive 14 tracks long, giving listeners their money’s worth, but I can’t help but feel as if it would have benefitted from a ruthless cut and perhaps the release of a collector’s edition. This release, though overall enjoyable, can feel quite meandering.

My Bad, Miranda and A Wave Across A Bay sound fantastic back to back, the follow up track, The Resurrectionists lacks direction and is slightly disappointing by comparison. It’s not a bad track per say, it just doesn’t hold its own with quite the same authority. It’s songs like these that increase the album’s runtime without commenting on anything that hasn’t already been said elsewhere on the record, making me question their inclusion. That said, it wouldn’t be fair to say the album is overly bloated and I recognise each listener will favour certain tracks, but other exceptional songs on ‘FTHC’ highlight these potentially weaker tracks.

It’s clear to see why Turner is loved by his fans, and I am sure they won’t be disappointed with this album too. Though some tracks feel superfluous at times, the overall package is absolutely fantastic. Turner has absolutely succeeded in his aims and has provided one of the most exciting records of 2022 so far.

Alex Tearle

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @frankturner via No changes were made to this image.

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