His fifth studio effort since reinventing himself as a fiery, civic-minded folksinger, Tape Deck Heart finds the former frontman for hardcore punk rockers Million Dead dialing back the political fervor and unleashing a revelatory set of breakup songs, nostalgic ballads, and hedonistic pub rockers that falls somewhere between the wounded blue-collar humor of Billy Bragg and the benevolent swagger of Against Me! Turner's big expressive voice and gift for everyman poetry loom large over the proceedings, but there's a newfound musical effusiveness at play here as well, due in part to some tastefully simple yet sharp production from Rich Costey (Muse, Weezer, Rage Against the Machine). The more contemplative pieces like "Good & Gone," "The Fisher King Blues," and the evocative closer "Broken Piano," all of which balance humor and heartache with remarkable precision, may initially put off fans just looking for the usual Saturday night singalongs, but Turner is such a likable narrator that it's hard not to root for him, even at his most wrecked. Sleek, stylish, yet imbued with the peeling paint and tattered show flyer patina of punk, songs like the somber yet defiant "Recovery," the rousing and sentimental "Oh Brother," and the mosh pit-ready "Four Simple Words," the latter of which, with its rowdy and robust chorus of "I want to dance/I want lust and love and a smattering of romance," seems destined for either an opening or closing slot on the set list for years to come, maintain the camaraderie of the genre while jettisoning its more nihilistic aspects, resulting in what feels more like a brotherly headlock than a combat boot to the noggin. ~ James Christopher Monger
- Format: Vinyl
- Genre: Pop
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Meta Artist: Frank Turner