What with more metal coming out of the works than primetime at the steel plant, there’s nothing like a bit of punk infused folk-rock (half expecting “core” to be in the title these days). I speak of course, of the latest opus from punky gone folky, Frank Turner, “Positive Songs for Negative People.” What with the sombre and melancholy tone of 2013’s “Tape Deck Heart”, “Positive Songs For Negative People” takes said melancholy and injects it with a big ol’ dose of folky adrenaline, acting as the biggest pick-me-up record of the year.
The record starts off calmly, with the solo acoustic intro “The Angel Islington.” Starting up where “Tape Deck Heart” left off, this is Frank’s attempt at saying “I’ve done my moping, time to get moving again.” Recording the track solitarily with his guitar, adds to Frank’s sense of isolation, and starts the record off smoothly. Then, “Get Better” kicks in, and blows that out of the water like an exploding whale. With upbeat drums and a piano melody more uplifting than an uppercut from Robbie Lawler, this is where The Sleeping Souls jump up behind Frank, pick him up, and get him moving again!
The Sleeping Souls receive more of a spotlight than ever before on this record in particular. Lead single “The Next Storm” definitely maintains a cohesive feel (as well as a video appearance from CM Punk!), whilst Matt Nasir’s mandolin skills lend a brilliant folky edge to “The Opening Act of Spring”, an apology song for the subject of “Tape Deck Heart” …. or just leftover notes from Frank’s high school biology project. “Positive Songs” definitely lives up to the “Positive” in the title, with songs like “Out of Breath” adding a Flogging Molly-esque bar-room brawl feel to the record (as well as featuring a kickass guitar solo from Ben Lloyd). Alongisde this are “Demons”, a Springsteen-like driving song, featuring the pertinent lyric “Godamn, it’s great to be alive!” as well as “Josephine” and “Glorious You”, both catchy and uplifting, and slightly reminiscent of 2009’s “Poetry of the Deed.” Another uplifting favourite is “Love Forty Down”, an extended tennis metaphor featuring (as Frank put it) a transition from Mumford and Sons to NOFX!
Of course, the fast pace racers are balanced by more sombre and thoughtful parts of the record. “Mittens”, an unrequited love song about unrequited love songs (unrequited love-ception) does not sacrifice the album’s positivity, but remains a more thoughtful and calm aspect, whilst “Silent Key” maintains this with a slow build. Rounding off the record is a live recording of “Song For Josh” a tribute to a fallen old-friend.
Overall, “Positive Songs for Negative People” is a brilliantly solid record. It’s catchy, thoughtful and a brilliant balance of songs. The deluxe version even comes with a bonus acoustic CD, which is just as good as the record itself! I challenge anybody to listen to this and not feel uplifted, or at least not be able to find one song that they enjoy. It’s good to see Mr. Turner back!
I’m giving “Positive Songs for Negative People” a rating of:
“Positive Songs for Negative People” – 9/10
“Positive Songs for Negative People” is out NOW via Xtra Mile