Following the demise of his post-hardcore band, Million Dead, in 2005, vocalist Frank Turner went his own way and began a folk-punk solo career. Five years later, he has released 3 full length albums all of consistently strong material. His new EP, Rock & Roll does nothing to break this trend; Turner has described it as a “taster for the new album” but it is still a powerful release that stands on its own merit.
The opening vocal cry of “hear ye, hear ye” on “I Still Believe” does much to set up for the rest of the album. He draws focus to his vocals and guitar work because that’s where the action will be for much of this release. One of the EPs standouts, “I Still Believe” gradually builds from vocals and guitar into a full band throughout with each instrument adding effect as it enters. Simple drum beats drive the song’s rhythm and accented off-beats in the electric guitar embellish on already strong chords. The power, however, still lies in the vocals. Turner delivers thought-out, sentimental lyrics in his own voice (a skill we have unfortunately seen decrease in recent years) and when he cries that “something as simple as Rock and Roll could save us all”, none are left guessing where his dedication lies.
The songs on this release are just different enough to be especially memorable and have an impact. “Rock and Roll Romance” is a soft, acoustic guitar and vocal ballad that is as much a sweet love song as it is an attack on Rock and Roll pretentiousness. The swaying 6/8 feel of “The Next Round” drives home the pub feel of this drinking song. This track shows Turner’s skill melodically; he allows some of his rhymes to be predictable but then delays their arrival for added impact. The other standout on the EP is “To Absent Friends”, an energetic punk song with power in its soaring vocal and lyrics filled with suburban angst as well as its strong instrumentation. The guitar work is mainly chord based but still extremely catchy and the guitar/piano break after the first chorus is especially powerful.
Only one of the songs off this EP will be appearing on Frank Turner’s upcoming album so it is well worth picking this EP up. Strong, emotive folk-punk and not a single wasted track make Rock & Roll one of the finest releases of the year despite how close to New Year’s it has arrived.
(Xtra Mile Recordings)