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FRANK TURNER – Sleep is for the week (CD, Xtra Mile Recordings)

Posted: January 28th, 2007, by Simon Minter

I never heard Million Dead, Frank Turner’s previous band and a reference point that seems unconditionally attached to any mention of his name. Regardless of what they sounded like, on Sleep is for the week Turner’s music comes across as a blend of straightforward indie rock and folky strum, with a certain Celtic tinge to the vocal phrasing; lyrics to the fore and a selection of backing instrumentation ranging from simple acoustic guitar to rich, full band arrangements.

As with any singer-songwriter music, the words are the focus here. The lyrical content rarely deviates from a self-deprecating, self-examining stream of consciousness; obscure and tricky lyrics aren’t Turner’s thing, he’s all about baring the soul with descriptive words tied to specific situations and memories. At times the relentless self-focus and miserablism can grate – the heartless cynic in me wants to shake Turner out of his self-obsessed exclamations of unworthiness on tracks like ‘Romantic Fatigue’ and ‘Wisdom Teeth’. However, when such lyrics are delivered with less of a wearisome sense of irony and humour, and tied to either a richer, more dynamic melodic backing (‘The Ladies of London Town’) or an intimate, heartfelt reading (‘Must Try Harder’), they can really work.

This album presents Turner as being a nice guy, desperate to make friends, and eager to remind us of his shortcomings and hangups. The difficulty of this situation is that if you’re not in the mood for dealing with a needy friend, an indie loser complaining about his girl troubles over a pint at Nambucca, Turner can outstay his welcome with not quite enough glimmers of magic in his music. But then again, maybe we should be a better, more tolerant friend.

Frank Turner
Xtra Mile Recordings

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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