Album Review: Frank Turner – “Rock & Roll” EP

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Frank Turner may not be a household name here in America, but he sure as hell should be. I first found out about Frank Turner a little over a year ago. My iTunes account kept recommending that I listen to him and after ignoring it many times I finally gave in and followed the link. The first album I checked out was “The First Three Years”, simply because of the Black Flag reference in the title and artwork. While scrolling through the songs I saw something that blew my mind, the title “Pay to Cum”, Holy Shit! (I thought) someone covered my favorite Bad Brains song. I hit the play button and prepared to be let down but I was far from disappointed. I couldn’t believe that some English guy that I’d never heard of was doing the song justice and he was doing it with just an acoustic guitar. That was my first taste of what Mr. Turner was offering, but not my last. Since then I have tracked down and purchased every Frank Turner song that I can find and have been consistently thrilled.

His music is built around an acoustic guitar but that doesn’t mean he is purely a folk performer. Many of the songs fit into that category but on others Frank brings in elements of rock, punk, alternative and even a little pop. The songs he chooses to cover, which have included tracks by Bruce Springsteen, The Postal Service, Black Flag and the earlier mentioned Bad Brains (among others) serve as a pretty good road map of what to expect musically from a Frank Turner release. Lyrically, he has covered several depressing topics ranging from the death of a friend (Long Live The Queen) to suicide (Richard Divine) to wasting time on a dead end relationship (Casanova Lament) but to put Frank Turner in the “sad music” category would greatly undersell what he is really all about. Sure, there are sad songs on his discs but there are also upbeat, rockin ones about being yourself, not giving up, enjoying life ,his love of music and like most punk rockers, a few angry political tracks as well.

That brings us to his new release, the “Rock & Roll” EP. This is a good jumping on point for first time Frank Turner listeners. Even though it is only five songs long you get a good idea of what Mr. Turner is all about.

The first song, “I Still Believe” (the only song from this set that will also be on his upcoming full length release) is an upbeat ode to the power of rock & roll with a sing or shout along section towards the end of the track.

After that we get “Pass It Along” a song about being a performer. It starts out slow but builds as it progresses.

Song three “Rock & Roll Romance” is a short slow number about a girl who can’t find Mr. Right. A slightly different (possibly live) version of this song was released on the Take Action! Volume 9 CD earlier this year.

The forth song is called “To Absent Friends”; it’s the fastest, most punk song on the disc and, as the title suggests is about an absent friend.

The record ends with “The Next Round” another slow number about drinking too much.

This is another typical Frank Turner release, meaning that it is great from beginning to end. It definitely makes me look forward to the upcoming (spring 2011) full length disc but this is not an album that I would recommend to everyone. If you are strictly into pop punk, screamo or metal this may not be for you. But for those of you that listen to this EP and find that you enjoy it, I would suggest that you also pick up his album “Poetry Of The Deed”, it has a similar feel to it. Some of you might also want to hunt down “A Song To Ruin” by the band “Million Dead”, It’s a punk band that Frank Turner sung for before he went solo.

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