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New Music: Frank Turner - Undefeated

Updated: Jun 13

Cover of Frank Turner's new album, Undefeated. The album cover shows a black and white photo of a man with an Undefeated tattoo across his back.

Frank Turner has been on my mind a lot these past few months, he is an artist I have loved and respected and followed his solo career with a lot of interest. However, the reason why he has been at the forefront of my mind for the last six months is since the emotional ending of Steve Lamacq's last show of his five day a week broadcasting on 6 music. For the last link Steve talked about how, on the morning of his last five day a week show, he sat out in his back yard with a cuppa and was thinking about why, why do we do all of this? What's the meaning of it all? So many of us spend so much of our lives listening to music, searching for new bands, going to live gigs up and down the country, watching musicians in a room of a handful of people on a weeknight and what is the meaning of it all? Why do we do it? Then Steve played I Still Believe by Frank Turner as his last song and how this captures it all perfectly. The reason why we do give so much of our lives to this thing is because music gives us a purpose, it unites us, it makes us feel alive, makes us feel part of something and “who’d have thought that something as simple as rock n roll would save us all”.

The message of music saving us all and giving us meaning runs through Frank's tenth solo album Undefeated. This is an album of Frank Turner doing what he does best. The album is full of defiance, being true to yourself, finding your tribe, living the life that you want to live and chasing those dreams regardless of what barriers the world may throw at you. The album has moments that will hit you full on in the face, combined with moments that will have you looking deep inside your soul, reflecting on life and feeling both inspired for the future and nostalgic for the past.  

Undefeated opens with Do One which can best be described as a classic Frank Turner anthem. A call to arms, a reminder that there is only one you. Ignore the negativity and be the person you want to be “Some people just gonnna hate you / No matter what you do / Don’t waste your time trying to change their minds / Just be a better you”.  

Never Mind The Back Problems is a raucous song that will be sure to make you smile. It captures the joys for musicians touring in their 40s and the importance of never giving up, finding the thing that you love in life and just continue down that road and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Ceasefire provides the album with the first tender reflective moment which sees Frank sending a message back to his 15 year old self. How as we grow older we might not be the person we wanted to be at 15 and that is ok. Life changes, dreams change we might not be who we wanted to be at that age, but there will always be a common ground with our younger selves and we must never forget that “I can’t leave you behind / You will always be on my mind”. 

Girl From The Record Shop is another song that is full of fun, a tongue in cheek nod to the past. Frank’s tribute to records that he has loved over the years, and how much of Punk Rock sounds the same, everything is borrowed and stolen and we should not be ashamed of that.  Pandemic PTSD is an anthem for the times we have recently lived through. Those feelings of life being shut down, the craziness of what we had to live through and not knowing how to feel about it all “It's ok to admit that I don’t know how to feel / About the shit that we just lived through / It was kind of a big deal”. The difficulties of going back to ‘normal life’ after that “We got punched in the dick for two straight years / And we can’t move on that easily”.   Despite the difficulties in getting back out there, Frank references that we got to the point where collectively we decided to get back out there, and once again music and live experiences in particular saved us and took us out of the darkness. 

Letters is a beautiful, tender reflective song about lost loves, how we lose connections with people in our lives, and the lost art of writing letters. We have a generation of people now who will never know the magic of writing and receiving letters.

East Finchley is full of memories and nostalgia taking us back to a time when we had the world at our feet, adventures to be lived, thinking we can be anything we want to be, and how life may have been different if we took a different path. No Thank You For The Music is another defiant song about the importance of not gatekeeping art, the importance of being true to yourself and not being part of a gang for the sake of it.  “I don’t want to be in any gang that you are in / I refuse to take part in gatekeeping peoples art” . The Leaders is an inspiring song about how it is up to us as people to get together to make the changes that matter, the leaders we have can’t be trusted, but the majority of people in the world are good people and it is through this social collectiveness that we can still make a difference.

International Hide and Seek is a wonderful pop song about escapism “We’ve been trapped in a time of hysteria / I’ve got a hungery to do something rash”. Show People is a beautiful song about finding your tribe, feeling a part of something and how you can just look at people and feel that connection. You instantly know who the ‘Show People’ are. The touring musicians who have spent their life on the road, the people who go to random gigs on a Wednesday night and feel comfortable and happy in a room full of strangers enjoying the music. On My Way provides another raw and tender moment, this is a song full of love “When I’m with you the world can wait” and regret about being apart from loved ones “Those days apart they start to weigh / More than I can really take”  Somewhere Inbetween is a beautiful song trying to figure out who we are, who we once were, and who we want to be. 

The album comes to a close with Undefeated, a piano led ballad that summarises everything the album is about. This song and album is about resilience, overcoming everything that life throws at us and the fact we are still here, we are still standing we are still undefeated is something to be celebrated, something to be proud of. Let's face it, life is hard for all of us at times and the fact that we get out of bed in the morning and are still here to tell our stories, are still here to have adventures, are still here to love, to cry, to laugh and to live life means we are all undefeated. Frank Turner thanks for reminding us of this.


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