Album Review: Frank Turner – Polaroid Picture EP

By on Wednesday, 12th February 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s a forgone conclusion that the post-‘Poetry of the Deed’ releases from Frank Turner will prove to be inexplicably successful: the man could release a track of him farting to the tune of the Egyptian national anthem, and it’d still inevitably hit the singles charts. Such is the extent of the fandom surrounding the Hampshire-born singer songwriter punk-rock troubadour and any other title that I doth give him.

I’m not talking about the kind of fan frenzy which we see with cretins like One Direction and Justin Bieber, with thousands of tweenagers reTweeting and longing on their every syllable. I’m talking about a near-fanatical following that have grown with Frank Turner, from his Million Dead days, through ‘Love, Ire and Song’ and into the arena-rocking era of Turner of 2014. People who have been through his journey and feel it’s been a trek in which they’ve joined Turner on – he’s their icon, and for good reason.

For the past 9-ish years Turner has been gigging his little English arse off, playing pub shows, festival sets and tours left, right and centre. For it to have paid off in this amount though, is surely something which Frank won’t have predicted – I mean, no matter the success he comes across as the proverbial ‘everyman’ done good. An ‘everyman’ who can force grown-up, mentally-stable women into jittering, jabbering wrecks who are only capable of tears. (I’ve seen it.)

Enter the ‘Polaroid Picture’ EP – a five song collection of classic Frank-isms – the kind of stories and songs which have become Turner’s recipe for success. In opening track ‘Polaroid Picture’, we’re treated to some archetypal Turner nostalgia, backed by a semi-mournful piano melody. We’re then introduced to ‘The Modern Leper’ and Frank’s at his old tricks again, turning the most clichéd of phrases and turning it into gut-wrenchingly yet hauntingly beautiful imagery: “Yeah, I cut off all the good stuff / I cut off my foot to spite my legs.”

That may all seem like the kind of subject matter morbid enough to make you want to lop your own leg off, but Frank still has that sense of fun and whimsy which we’ve seen throughout his career. Case in point is ‘Plea From a Cat Called Virtute’, a song largely centred on a tattoo of a cat on his arm with Frank quirkily singing we should “invite the tabby from two doors down / you can ask your sister if she doesn’t bring her Basset Hound”.

This EP doesn’t just showcase his immense creativity and songwriting, but it’s also a spectacle of how brilliant a musician and artist he has become –captured magnificently in his understated cover of Biffy Clyro’s ‘Who’s Got a Match’ – a cover that if it was performed by one of those joyless pop princesses from One Direction or jailbird Bieber would probably have done the rounds on YouTube so often we’d all be sick to death of it. Instead, we’re treated to a stripped down, Anglicised version of a top, top tune.

Altogether, it is no doubt a meagre offering from Frank, clocking in at around 17-ish minutes. But it’s crammed full of the kind of heart, majesty and immense storytelling Frank is lauded for. Plus on ‘Sweet Albion Blues’ (video below), he mentions pretty much every UK town imaginable which should do well to keep his faithful, swooning fandom alive.

Why? Because on the ‘Polaroid Picture’ EP, he continues to be OUR Frank.

9/10

Frank Turner’s latest EP ‘Polaroid Picture’ is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings. Turner is just finishing up a UK tour this week.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6eWTQ4NBGk[/youtube]

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