Frank Turner - Be More Kind (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Frank Turner

Be More Kind (2018)

Xtra mile

On his new album Be More Kind, Frank Turner wears his new positive message on his sleeve, projects it to the masses and eagerly awaits you singing the words back to him. Addressing the current divisive political climate, Turner’s goal is to bring people together.

It only takes one glimpse at the tracklist to see: Be More Kind, “Don’t Worry,” “Common Ground” and the repurposed usage of “Make America Great Again.” On the latter track he sings, “Well I know I'm just an ignorant Englishman, but I'd like to make America great again,” addressing his somewhat more distant relationship. On “Little Changes” he asks us, “Let’s not just pray, let’s make a change.” At his most successful, Turner blends the personal with the political. On “1933,” arguably the most Frank Turner sounding song on the album, he blends England Keeps My Bones politics with a familiar topic of his, drinking. The title track and “Don’t Worry” do this subtly and most effectively, the gentle choruses resonating louder than the too on the nose “Make America Great Again.” “21st Century Survival Blues” is a terrible, yet accurate title for an otherwise excellent song, poppy without wading too deep into the bullshit. The same can be said for “Blackout” with its plucky guitar that allows you to read into it however you see fit.

For the most part, Turner succeeds in the same ways he always has. He’s long past Campfire Punkrock and, as anyone following Turner’s career knows, his songs have grown with him. Whether or not fans think he should tackle politics (see the opening line of “1933”), he’s going to. He’s seasoned enough to craft songs he believes will change something in this world, regardless of the youthful punk agenda. And there are worse sentiments to project than Be More Kind. He does everything he can to make this his biggest and most inclusive record. “Little Changes” could fit neatly into a family friendly commercial, while "There She Is" (a holdover from last year's Songbook) is an out of place, straightforward love song. Without a doubt, it’s a tricky balance to maintain, but Turner’s new positive mental attitude welcomes any and all.

Be More Kind is another slight evolution in Frank Turner’s career. He takes some big steps and bigger lyrical swings, but ultimately you end up with reliable Frank Turner. I can’t see Be More Kind swaying those unfamiliar with his music one way or the other even with the political inclusivity. But I do hope his message resonates even a small percentage of how much he believes it will.