Rock and Roll. The latest EP from Frank Turner is a collection of new material, set to tide us over until a full album release some time next year. Featuring song ‘I Still Believe’, which was previewed at Reading, is this truly as the name suggests? Let me tell you now, this EP rules. Truth be told, Frank sets the barrier for excellence with each release and then keeps smashing it every time. So let’s have a look and see what it is that makes Rock And Roll just so bloody good.
The EP opens with the aforementioned single, ‘I Still Believe’, a wonderfully upbeat folk punk explosion. ‘I Still Believe’ is a call to arms for us all and is definitely danceable. Frank hasn’t forgotten his hardcore roots yet, working in an admittedly less hardcore gang shout which still invokes that feeling of unity in us all. It’s the kind of song that dares you not to sing along and knows you’ll fail at every turn, drawing you in entirely. Harmonica solos abound, ‘I Still Believe’ is the perfect opener. While it’s not quite my favourite song on the EP, it’s one of the best songs Frank’s written so far and definitely bound to bring in a ton of new fans. Just like its predecessor, ‘Pass It Along’ is a shout out to all of Frank’s contemporaries and heroes (even including a cheeky reference to Chuck Ragan!) and a heartfelt recognition of what it is to truly be a music fan. A bit of a slow burner to begin with, starting with some truly beautiful guitar, but building up to an exciting burst of passion at the end. It’s clear that this was written with a live audience in mind, and is perhaps the perfect song for a festival set in the summer – perfectly chilled out to start but gets everyone excited by the end. Inspiring stuff.
‘Rock And Roll Romance’ is a short acoustic ballad, much in the same vein as ‘A Decent Cup Of Tea’ from Sleep Is For The Week. Some clever lyrics combined with a simple melody makes this song a poignant declaration of undiscovered love. At 1:50, it seems a little too short and indeed, if you’re not paying attention, you completely miss it. But if you look at it another way, that’s part of its beauty – walking down the road, not paying attention, suddenly stumbling upon this little gem. It’s an interesting addition to the EP and one that, if you can help it, shouldn’t be missed. ‘To Absent Friend’ ramps it back up a notch and we’re back to the electric. It’s reminiscent of several songs from Love, Ire And Song, notably Prufrock and God Save The Queen, and is a great demonstration of how Frank’s progressed but is still in touch with his earlier material. Tales of going out in the city and… moving to the coast? Why not? Fast paced, punk rock fun. Final track, ‘The Next Round’, is a slow moving piano based song about the dangers of the rock and roll lifestyle. Some of the best lyrics in the record come out in this track, my favourite line being “I tried to live like Hemingway but life doesn’t work that way”, but the whole song is an intricate poetic triumph and displays Frank’s phenomenal talent for all to see. It’s always been my opinion that a release should have a strong opening and a strong closer, and Rock And Roll does far more than that – it opens and finishes on absolute blinders.
Once again, Frank has managed to amaze me. I honestly thought that Poetry Of The Deed was one of the greatest releases of all time, but now I know that Rock And Roll is as well, if not even greater. It’s a mere £2.49 on iTunes and if you don’t get it, you’ll regret it. Frank Turner is simply the best thing in British music these days, so do yourself a favour, pick up Rock And Roll and be inspired.
5/5 high fives!
PS – the iTunes EP comes with the video as well, so if you do buy it on any format other than that, here’s the video. Doesn’t he look dapper?