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Frank Turner - 'Undefeated' Album Review


Tracklist: 

1. Do One 

2. Never Mind The Back Problems 

3. Ceasefire 

4. Girl From The Record Shop 

5. Pandemic PTSD 

6. Letters 

7. East Finchley 

8. No Thank You For The Music 

9. The Leaders 

10. International Hide And Seak Champions  

11. Show People 

12. On My Way 

13. Somewhere Inbetween  

14. Undefeated  

 

Frank Turner has been an artist that's resonated with me a lot since “Positive Songs For Negative People". There's a way he seems to tap into his audience with a mix of rock, punk and folk songs, making his audience feel like he knows them and has walked the same paths as them.  


His tenth studio album, “Undefeated”, sees Turner reflect on his forty two years of life. The title refers to the fact he’s still alive and kicking while making a lot of noise.  


The album is soaked in a sense of looking back on a life with a sense of perspective, the feeling a life that has its cruel moments but, overall, we can get through them. Musically it follows on nicely from “FTHC" but this time with the addition of Callum Green taking over the drum seat.  


“Undefeated” opens with 'Do One', a reminder that people will always question the choices you make while the tongue in cheek titled 'Never Mind The Back Problems' is a swift hardcore blast to say “punks not dead".  


'Girl From The Record Shop' reminds us of the things we do in the name of young love (“I’ve been in every day buying so much vinyl / Don’t even own my own turntable"). 'Pandemic PTSD' hits close to home as something we all went thorough together, not just as a community, but the entire human race sharing one massive fucked up few years.  


Both 'Letters' and 'East Finchley' hark back to a simpler time in a person's life, while 'No Thank You For The Music' is a rabble rousing call against those that are far too overprotective of music and art. 'The Leaders' borrows the melody from 'We Shall Overcome', a traditional protest song adapted by Pete Seeger that's associated with the Civil Rights Movement. 


'Show People' feels like a bit of a fumble compared to the rest of the material here but 'On My Way', a tribute the mundane home life a person can miss when they're away doing something else, swiftly regains the album's overall quality.  


There's a thread running from 'Ceasefire' and 'Somewhere Inbetween' as they both rely on talking to the 15 year old version of himself, which kind of bookends the concept of the album, before closing with the album’s title track, a mid paced piano. This highlights another issue, so to speak, with the album, the lack of musical variation.


Previously, Turner would veer from hardcore to folk ballad to rock all within the same number of songs, something that feels a little amiss here. There's no 'Tell Tale Signs' or 'One Foot Before The Other' which is a real shame for me as a listener.  


That doesn't mean that “Undefeated” is a dull album, it really isn't. Turner also produces the record and it sounds good to my ears (I've streamed it over speakers and headphones and played the cd and vinyl). The band really put in a good shift (got to highlight the bass playing of Tarrant Anderson here, pinning down the rhythm while also adding something special too). There are listens where everything fits perfectly but there’s the odd one where it feels a little off to me for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. Overall though, it lands more of its blows than it misses, which lifts it from “average" to “good” for me. It's a solid release but only time will tell if we as listeners revisit it as often as others in his back catalogue.  




Review - Scott Hamilton

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