“So on the first night we met you said well darling let’s make a deal/ If anybody ever asks us well let’s say that we met in jail/ And that’s the story that I’m sticking to like a southern face that comforts…”
These are some of the lines from “Recovery,” the single and biggest highlight, of Frank Turner‘s Tape Deck Heart. It’s a shining example of why the Englishman is one of the best lyricists out there right now, with that ability to explain joy and sorrow in the same line—well quite frankly, show me who else can do that.
It’s strikingly odd there really wasn’t much publicity for Tape Deck Heart. Did music fans forget? Did the label not care? Hey, no speculation. But the people who yearn for Turner’s music would never forget.
And his music isn’t for everyone. It’s for the 20 to 30 something-year-olds who feel older than what’s printed on their IDs. They have holes in the soles of their shoes. They have another sobering round at the bar.
There are some who compare Turner to anyone from Dallas Green to Billy Bragg. Nah. He’s a man who’s always paved a way about playing that can’t be copied and tells stories better than the best sellers.
Tape Deck Heart pulls a little bit of the charm of each of his records. There’s a bitterness that hasn’t been heard since Love Ire & Song (“Good & Gone,” “Plain Sailing Weather”) to straight up shockingly painful (“Tell Tale Signs”). Then there is perhaps his best addition since England, Keep My Bones, the backing band The Sleeping Souls themselves. The little notes of the upright piano on “Four Simple Words” and “Recovery” make you feel the energy of old rock and roll.
While some of the pieces and parts sewing does create some duds and misplaced songs, it should be noted that this record showcases Turner’s best asset: lyric writing. From scenes taking place in an airport to crappy parties, all stories are best told in the realistic and impassioned anger fashion. Tape Deck Heart features no mega metaphors or using other pronouns to cover up that fact it’s really “I.”
Because hearing, “So fuck you Hollywood for teaching us that love was free and easy/ Fuck you Mötley Crüe… for telling tales that leave out all the dark sides” is a relieving energy release. Because it’s truthful. Because it’s done from the heart. Because Frank Turner is a badass.
An important note: the regular version of Tape Deck Heart is a 12-song album. The deluxe is that much better. Who ever’s decided to cut out the other five songs on the deluxe editions– you’re wrong. Some of the best lyrically and most thought-provoking content (“Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons,” “We Shall Not Overcome”) doesn’t appear on the regular version.