A triumphant return to the political scene after so long lingering in the shadows, Frank Turner is back with with seventh record, Be More Kind, an album which, at it’s very core, preaches nothing but the simple message in its three word title. This is one listen which aims on tackling the largest issues the world faces today: Donald Trump, racism and a disconnection with basic human decency. Throughout the 13 tracks, Frank shares his perceptions of the world and how, despite so much hatred being seen, the day-to-day power of love and kindness gives us glimmers of hope in what seems like a somewhat desolate future.
Kicking things off is ‘Don’t Worry’, where we’re reintroduced to Frank’s delightfully warming voice, which always manages to offer a soothing sense of inherent comfort to any track. The song’s message is one of optimism, finding comfort in each other within a social media obsessed society, portrayed through a prevalent sense of classic folk tones. The track is catchy, punchy and makes for the perfect spark to get the record well on its way.
From here, Frank diverts his gaze to a far more global scale, the most glaring example being ‘Make America Great Again’, as Frank bluntly proceeds to detail his opinions towards the President not reflecting the views of his people through some rather ostentatious means. Meanwhile, ‘1933’ brings forth the raw, punchy catchiness that Frank’s sound has become universally identifiable from. The track’s reference to the 1933 mentality, which saw the rise of nazism, is handled incredibly well through some terrific use of witty and clever lyricism: “You can’t fix the world, if all you have is a hammer”, is a personal favourite.
There has definitely been a shift in sound which is clearly noticeable from the older material. As Frank has become an international name, the record reflects this through a far cleaner sound which was certainly made to maximise radio play. Whilst in no way has Frank rejected the sound which we’ve come to love, still proving he is the phenomenal wordsmith and songwriter but, for a record which aims on tackling some of the world’s biggest issues, it’s a shame to see some tracks take more of a pop-rock route which could have been presented in a far more impactful way through a raw traditional folk sound. As such, some tracks do feel flat when compared to others; ‘There She Is’ and ‘Little Changes’ feel like they belongs on a completely different record through their inclusion of bouncy pop synth and far more ballad tones compared to the harshness of Frank’s rawer lyrics. Nonetheless, though, every track maintains its own character and is in no way a drag to listen to. The shifting blend of new and old sound makes for interesting breaks to the record’s pacing which allows it to remain interesting throughout the listen.
If one track was to stand out, it would have to be the record’s namesake. ‘Be More Kind’ uses a graceful acoustic sound, simple message and excellently sentimental delivery which really does capture all that the record aims to achieve. It’s tracks like this which allow you to simply melt away into Frank’s sound; the lack of flashy riffs and simplicity of just a guitar and his voice are all that is needed to make this track feel heartfelt in every sense of the word.
On the whole, Frank Turner’s seventh instalment is highly admirable and sees the once outspoken artist’s triumphant return to a political scene which he thrives in, portrayed through a combination of nostalgic and forward thinking sound. The message is simple and drives home true and clear: respect those around you and the world will be a better place. Frank has reminded us once again of the power of love and acceptance rather than the building of walls and barriers which keep people apart. Be More Kind is an infectious, lovable record which is full of catchy tunes you won’t be able to shift out of your head for the next week.