Frank Turner – Be More Kind

I have been a massive fan of Frank Turner since 2010 when I first heard him cover Bad Religion’s ‘My Poor Friend Me’ on a tribute album. I immediately fell in love with Love Ire & Song and have expected big things every time Frank announced a new album, though I do have to admit I didn’t listen to his last release, ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’ as much as I should have. I had no idea what to expect from ‘Be More Kind’, the few songs I’d heard pre-release had quite poppy, somewhat electronic sounds that I wouldn’t normally associate with Frank – to be honest I was concerned. I did, however, find myself dancing along and singing to the album from my first listen while cooking some home-made sausage rolls.

The album is good value, putting up 13 songs and coming in at 48minutes, opening with no sign of the electronic pop sound I mentioned above. The first song, ‘Don’t Worry’ opens with just Frank’s voice and an acoustic guitar – the sound I first fell in love with – before adding some soft electric guitar and drums at the 30 second mark. This is a fairly nice, supportive song encouraging the listener to not worry if they don’t know what they’re doing because “no one has a clue – but you’ll figure it out” the song just doesn’t have that something special though.

Song #2 is “1933” and one I absolutely can’t get out of my head. It has a more traditional band sound and discusses how the current state of the world is slipping back to 1933. It’s obvious the song is about our regression in human rights, racism and sexism, but a quick Google shows exactly what happened in 1933 – Hitler rose to power. More than this song just being a comparison of the state of the world, I’d suggest it’s also a comparison of Trump to Hitler. This song is full of great lines such as “The first time is was a tragedy, the second time it’s a farce” and “If I was of the greatest generation I’d be pissed […] I’d be screaming at my grandkids: We already did this”. However, the one that’s been stuck in my head for the last day is “don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn”, painting an apocalyptic outlook from our current situation.

Jumping to ‘Be More Kind’ the title track of the album, we have probably the most typical Frank Turner song on the album. It’s sung quietly with an acoustic guitar and gently requests the listener “In a world that has decided it’s going to lose its mind. Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.” There’s something simple and beautiful about this song, it gives me goose bumps throughout, particularly with “they’ve started raising walls around the world now […] On the borders, in our heads, between the things that can and can’t be said”.

Next up is a change of pace with ‘Make America Great Again’, the first of the more electronic sounding songs (I’m not even sure ‘electronic’ is the right word). My first listen of the song I wasn’t a fan at all, but after a few listens I actually really like it.

That said, I do have a feeling that as an Englishman, Frank should be worrying about the state of the UK first and foremost, before America. That said, the message is again simple “Lets make America great again, by making racists ashamed again”. The album shows some signs of dropping the doomsday feel on the upbeat ‘Going Nowhere’, before quickly returning in ‘Brave Face’ where Frank is suggesting “put on your brave face honey, and get ready for the end of the world”.

As listeners we do get one more reprieve from the doomsday scenarios on ‘There She Is’, a song about how much he needs his girl. From this point onward the album feels like The Arrivals’ album ‘Volatile Molotov’ in its apocalyptic feel. The feel of ‘21st Century Survival Blues’ is explained by the title, as it leads into the first single of the album ‘Blackout’. This song is essentially Frank’s attempt as The Arrivals ‘The Power Won’t Be Staying on for Long’ – predicting it won’t be long until we are all without power.

I’ve found it quite hard to give this album a rating. The fact is I’ve really enjoyed the songs as standalone songs, and they grow on me with each listen. The challenge is, determining how much originality there really is here. It feels like Frank Turner has produced an album that is half ‘Devour Part 2’ and half ‘Volatile Molotov Part 2’ – follow ups to Dave Hause and Arrival’s albums respectfully. Surprisingly I don’t mind how Frank’s sound has changed, and his lyricism is a strong as ever – I have totally mixed emotions as to how to rate this album.


Matt Power

6 May 2018


Full Disclosure

Feeling Relaxed
Drinking Coffe (x1)
Recent Listening Rise Against
How I Listened Sony XBA-3 Headphones

Artist Frank Turner
Album Be More Kind
Released 4 May 2018
Label Polydor Records
Tracks 13
Run Time 48 minutes
Genre Folk Punk