Sound — 9
Fans of Frank Turner's earlier works will by now be more than familiar with the folk-punk, acoustic guitar feel of his albums, what's refreshing on 'England Keep My Bones' is that his rapidly rising fame is allowing him to develop his sound. That doesn't mean wholesale changes, but there are moments throughout the album that certainly wouldn't have happened on "Sleep Is For The Week", for example. The album kicks off with a slow, brass band piece that is wholely unexpected and puts you in mind of a Yorkshire coal mine. This is obviously intentional and is pre-emptive of the albums overall feel of patriotism. Barely a minute later in the track ("Eulogy") we're treated to some classic Frank Turner lyrics and a massive crescendo of distorted, full-on rock guitars that then fade out into the first full-length track. It really is a great kick-off. Further on down the line, the Irish-folk violin of "Photosynthesis" makes a welcome comeback, as do those heavy guitars from the start which do a great job of breaking the songs up. Frank's "signiature" acoustic work and vocals pervade throughout. If you liked any of his other albums, you will like this.
Lyrics — 9
Again, if you've listened to him before... But for those who haven't, the folk-punk genre was invented for Frank Turner. He can go from smooth, sweet singing to a full-on shout in the space of a song, and he has the very happy knack of getting 2 or 3 lines of a track stuck on a loop in your head. Depsite being (sometimes) slightly cliched, you just can't help being inspired. This album is no different; typically brash ("At least I f--king tried") with sweet bits sewn in between. What sets "England Keep My Bones" apart is that first word: England. There must be 6 or 7 songs on the album centering on the theme of patriotism, being at home... "Wessex Boy" and "Rivers" are prime examples, but there are more. I suppose you'll appreciate that more if you are, in fact, English, but everyone can relate to what he's trying to say. In a new twist there's even an instrument-less, completely spoken track, "English Curse", set just after the Norman conquest that works very well and will get inside your head. Frank abondons his usual tactic of ending an album on a ballad and switches it for a gospel, albeit with the main strapline of "there is nooooooo God". All in all, lyrically everything his fans have come to expect; in your face and easy to follow.
Overall Impression — 9
I must admit, I've been waiting for this album, and it says something that I bought it before the Arctic Monkeys "Suck It And See", which was released on the same day. It hasn't disappointed in the slightest. The unexpected musical directions work brilliantly and they aren't used to an extent that will put established fans off. "I Am Disappeared" is the highlight for me, while "One Foot Before The Other" shows a slightly heavier side to Frank's music than you might be used to. Some of the songs could even be re-workings of stuff he's already written, notably the apology to his friends for not being around and the cliched "clothes on my back" chorus of "If Ever I Stray", but you just don't care, because it's a great song in it's own right and, most of all, you believe that he means it. It feels like a complete album rather than just a bunch of songs thrown together, with themes of nostalgia, patriotism and (to some extent) romanticism a constant throughout, and that is definitely a plus point; it feels like a lot of thought had gone into the overall work. If you're into folk-punk, and you've never heard any Frank Turner before, buy this. Then buy the other three.