Frank Turner’s latest EP, Don’t Worry, continues his recent trend of what might be best described as music-therapy pop. It comes to join the string of singles surrounding his Be More Kind album of last year, as Frank attempts to console us as our world goes to shit. The EP opens with its namesake and is the same as the original version as on the album, which is a little disappointing.
Despite being undeniably catchy, and indeed relevant to our anxious times, it is far from being one of Frank’s greats. With hand claps, an organ and backing singers, the gospel-like sing-along is sadly the highlight of the EP. ‘Bar Staff’ follows, merrily describing his complicated relationship with pubs, but comes across as a contrived jingle, with trumpets blaring almost comically. The mood then turns sombre with ‘How It Began,’ a stripped-back ballad with gentle guitar and lyrics that are a lot more tactful and charming. Closing the EP is a live version of ‘Little Changes’ that thankfully sounds less like a Kate Nash song than the original but is still pretty poor.
The background choral singing would perhaps be more suited to a musical and it rounds off the general cheesy vibe of the EP. Looking back at what has been an incredibly prolific solo career, with 7 full-length albums since his debut in 2005 (and 2309 gigs), Frank has always been endearingly honest, especially when writing about his own mental illness. Songs like ‘If Ever I Stray,’ ‘The Way I Tend to Be’ and ‘Wisdom Teeth’ have all attacked and dissected themes of depression and anxiety but retained their depth and sincerity.
Whilst Frank tries to spoon-feed us some positivity, he also stands alongside lyricists like Scott Hutchison who have given us solace and beauty in their shared pain. Yet with Be More Kind and Don’t Worry there’s an overbearing sense of dumbing down that can’t help but feel patronising.
Image: Henry W. Laurisch via Wikimedia Commons