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Album Review: Frank Turner - Positive Songs For Negative People (2015 LP)

With Frank Turner, you know what you're getting. Sometimes it's fast and upbeat and sometimes it's quite and thoughtful, but it's always that special brand of English folk-punk, in the tradition of Billy Bragg - except that Turner is apparently pretty right-wing. He also has a pretty impressive output for one skinny English dude – Positive Songs For Negative People is his sixth album in eight years.

So Turner is a known quantity, like a Subway sandwich. Love him or hate him, you always know what you're getting. He's got a niche and he's good at it – when he's on form, his songs can be moving and powerful, all catchy gang vocals and frenetic acoustic guitar. There's a song on Positive Songs For Negative People, 'Love Forty Down', that's exactly that, all full of heart and earnest charm with a David and Goliath theme that is very rousing.

Most of this album hits that exact Turner sweet spot, but he can't seem to really help himself from just slipping into a fairly dull, morose rut occasionally (like on opening song, 'The Angel Islington'). Overall, though, Positive Songs For Negative People is Turner's most even album, quality wise. The first single from the album, 'Get Better' is fist-pumping rock and roll, marking the high-point early on that the album hovers around for the next ten or so tracks. It's the kind of stomping folk-punk that is classic Turner at his best. 'The Next Storm' is similar, but lighter and sunnier. It's good, and it's at these moments that I like Turner best.

This is Turner's most enjoyable album overall. It's less bogged down with very slow, disinterested songs and some really good traditional folk overtones ('The Opening Act Of Spring' features a fiddle, it's seriously Harvest Moon sounding, I love it). Fans of Turner will be happy with Positive Songs For Negative People because it doesn't stray that far from his usual oeuvre, and people who are more casual will just enjoy it as a sunny, largely upbeat album by a very competent if predictable song-writer.

Review Score: 7.3 out of 10

Positive Songs For Negative People is out now through Xtra Mile/Interscope.