Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart (Cover Artwork)

Frank Turner

Frank Turner: Tape Deck HeartTape Deck Heart (2013)
Universal Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
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Frank Turner records fall into one of two categories; solid front-to-back albums full of memorable sing-alongs and sharp-witted songwriting (2008's career high-point Love Ire & Song, 2011's England Keep My Bones) or a few incredible singles surrounded by, for lack of a more polite word, filler (2009.
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Frank Turner records fall into one of two categories; solid front-to-back albums full of memorable sing-alongs and sharp-witted songwriting (2008's career high-point Love Ire & Song, 2011's England Keep My Bones) or a few incredible singles surrounded by, for lack of a more polite word, filler (2009's Poetry of the Deed.) Unfortunately, Tape Deck Heart, the prolific British singer-songwriter's latest offering leans slightly more to the latter category. There's nothing here that is overtly unenjoyable, but some songs are noticeably better than others.

First the good; album opener and first single "Recovery" is a great way to kick things off. It's a classic Frank Turner song in that it manages to be lyrically verbose and immensely catchy at the same time. With lyrics like "On the first night you met you said ??Well, Darling. Let's make a deal. If anybody ever asks us let's just tell them that we met in jail.'" It possesses the signature wit that adorns most of Turner's lyrics and makes the song's message about addiction more palatable than it otherwise would be.

"Plain Sailing Weather" is another great track. It is quite profane lyrically, but still catchy enough to make it a potential radio hit. Turner loves his nautical references as a metaphor for breakups, dating back to "Worse Things Happen at Sea," and this song is just as powerful as that fan-favorite, albeit in a different way. Turner's band The Sleeping Souls (Matt Nasir, Nigel Powell, Tarrant Anderson and Ben Lloyd) really shine here.

As for the not so good; tracks like the too-slow "Tell-Tale Signs" and "Four Simple Words," even with its alarming drum break and tempo increase midway through are really just kind of there, and have none of the spark of past glories like "Photosynthesis" that really made listeners stand up and take notice.

It just wouldn't be a Frank Turner album without a plethora of bonus tracks, and this time around some of them are better than the tunes that actually made the proper album. "Time Machine" is an urgent and immediate punk-rock-by-way-of-Springsteen that has an energy not found on a lot of the slower tunes. "Tattoos" features just Turner and an acoustic guitar but it's very lively nonetheless.

With bands like Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers making huge waves, and a major label behind him, if there were ever a time for Frank Turner to really hit it big in the States, it's now. Unfortunately, Tape Deck Heart is not his strongest offering as a whole, but it features a number of fantastic tracks that could conceivably be "hits" and will surely become live staples. While he can and has done better and it could benefit from losing a few tracks, it's a better record than most of the "Americana" bands on the airwaves have made, and a strong showing overall.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
pokinatcha (June 18, 2013)

This shit sucks.

sadist (May 6, 2013)

Because he is trying to transition more into the mainstream his songs on this album come off kind of generic.Almost like adult contemporary rock.It's decent and does have some good stuff- Tell tell signs is an absolutely amazing song.Disagree with the reviewer that tell tale and 4 simple words are just kinda there,both songs rip.But to me it's his worst album because it has alot of boring moments.It's also lyrically very good but not the subject matter I like from him.Less personal reflection please and more politics and storytelling.I'm sure his mainstream shift has kind of dampened the stuff he'll write about know though who knows.This album makes me appreciate England keep my bones much more.

theproblemwithfire (April 30, 2013)

this sounds like billy bragg shitting out a mumford and sons b side.

also, can someone explain why million dead even gets brought up, ever? totally forgettable band not even worth mentioning.

sajamie81 (April 26, 2013)

Listened a couple of times this week, and I enjoy Four Simple Words more and more. That's going to be a stand out seeing it live. It just has that feel of everyone singing along, and that's what I want in my music. Maybe the US crowd will finally get with the idea that Mr. Turner is quite the song smith.

thisrespirator (April 26, 2013)

I'm pretty sure Poetry Of The Deed had bonus tracks too.

Tye (April 26, 2013)

"It just wouldn't be Frank Turner without a plethora of bonus tracks"

Sorry to be pedantic, but as far as I'm aware this is only the second album out of five that actually features bonus tracks.

It annoys me as well, I'd rather he did the odd EP release instead of tacking them on to the end of the album.

thisrespirator (April 25, 2013)

I can agree with most of this. Also when he tries to do the falsetto in "Broken Piano" I cringe so fucking bad.

stevenj (April 25, 2013)

"The Way I Tend To Be" is a Taylor Swift song.

Dante3000 (April 25, 2013)

More interestingly, someone said Million Dead was good.

fattony (April 25, 2013)

All of his albums have a handful of great songs and the rest is filler. The only thing that seems to be changing is the number of great songs on each album is declining. After my first few listens, there's about 3 standouts and the rest of it will probably get skipped more often than not.

elliot (April 25, 2013)

Wait, someone just said Frank Turner "sold out?" Did we all accidentally fall into a time machine and get dropped into 1999? What happened?

patod (April 25, 2013)

It's good!

VladimirLaserChrist (April 25, 2013)

Has anyone actually listed to his first 3 years of material?!?! The lyrics and music were so much better, his last 3 albums are completely dull in comparison. His lyrics have gone stale and the music so f***ing boring. Im confused as to why no-one see's that. Listen to Million Dead and his first solo songs and you'll see how he has sold out.

SixPints (April 24, 2013)

Am I the only one who thinks Time Machine sounds like an Aquabats b-side?

Dante3000 (April 24, 2013)

I like the album a lot but it's for sure like 2-4 songs to long. They don't take anything away (other than some pacing) but they could have been cut for sure.
Still, easily an album worth of great material here.

twstdbydsn (April 24, 2013)

Gotta say, upon multiple listens, I am really digging this record. Yeah it's got a couple of down moments, but as a whole as solid as they come.

Josiah (April 24, 2013)

Tell Tale Sings is fantastic.

jimmynorville (April 24, 2013)

I agree with your general assessment of the album, but I think Tell-Tale Signs is my favorite songs. To each their own.

thepopeofchili-town (April 24, 2013)

"It's crazy to me how universal the notion of LIAS being his best seems to be. Sleep is for the Week is pretty much perfect from start to finish (the only fumble being Ladies of London Town)"

Allow me to make you even crazier, "Ladies of London Town" is my favorite song on SIFTW.

JoeC (April 23, 2013)

Great album. The pacing is def off though. I think at least three of these bonus songs should have replaced a couple of the album tracks to help with the flow. I still think Poetry of the Deed had the best progression of all his albums. Perfect mix of the more upbeat stuff and his best "ballads" of all his records

superskabro (April 23, 2013)

Stupid vinyl didn't come with a Dropcard and my needle is shot, so I haven't gotten a chance to really get into this yet, but I have doubts that it will out pace EKMB. So far, I think that he gets better and better with each album. I loved LIAS...until I heard POTD and I loved that until I heard EKMB. He just keeps out doing himself and I hope that TDH turns out to keep that trend going.

telegraphrocks (April 23, 2013)

Pretty good.

Josiah (April 23, 2013)

I love it. "The Way I Tend to Be" is my current frontrunner for favourite song.

lmchc (April 23, 2013)

i still confuse him for the guy who sang for gallows

thisguyhere (April 23, 2013)

I find Poetry... to be much better to me than LAIS. "The Fastest Way Back Home" and "The Road" push that album over the top. LAIS is great, but as someone else said, can get saccharine and at times groan-worthy to me.

marcsnitzer (April 23, 2013)

As a whole, it's better than England Keep My Bones. Four Simple Words really doesn't fit in, and Polaroid Picture has been stuck in my head all day.

keepmovingforward (April 23, 2013)

This definitely isn't as good as LIAS, but I definitely prefer it to England Keep My Bones. I can't help but feel that with the full band he loses some of the charm that first made me love him, I dunno. There's just something with the full band songs that doesn't sit quite right with me.

Haanz (April 23, 2013)

It's crazy to me how universal the notion of LIAS being his best seems to be. Sleep is for the Week is pretty much perfect from start to finish (the only fumble being Ladies of London Town), and with less "aww.. that was a bit lame" cringe moments.

ak3punk (April 23, 2013)

I really like the last album. This album feels really long, I've only listened to it twice though. Hoping it grows on me, since Frank is fantastic live and his last two albums have been really enjoyable.

donovanjames (April 23, 2013)

Better then England, about the same as Poetry, not as good as Love Ire & Song. How the hell did We Shall Not Overcome not make the record?

eatbicycles (April 23, 2013)

But he's not an Americana band. This album would be competing with next-level indie rockish things--like Tegan and Sara and Hold Steady and even fun.? I don't really know. But I don't think he's trying to translate as a troubadour even though he films his videos in black-and-white.

souldoubt (April 23, 2013)

This is better than LIAS, I said it.

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