Ranking the Discography: Frank Turner
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Friday, February 23, 2024 - 20:07
Ranking the Discography: Frank Turner

After a quarter-of-a-century in the game, Frank Turner recently announced his 10th studio album, ‘Undefeated,’ out May 3rd on Xtra Mile Recordings (pre-order). Finding the sweet spot between youthful outspokenness and surviving midlife’s challenges, ‘Undefeated’ sees Turner tackling subjects like who you are versus who you wanted to be in your youth, life-altering love, fading friendships, wistful nostalgia, the mental fallout and political consequences that still linger from the pandemic era, and the more prosaic issue of persistent backache. Sonically, the new album is full of echoes to influences that Turner has touched upon at various moments in his kaleidoscopic career. Black Flag, Counting Crows, Descendents, The Pogues, Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg. It’s all present and accounted for.

While we are waiting for ‘Undefeated’ to come out on Xtra Mile Recordings, the label responsible for releasing Turner’s first albums, we asked the man himself to rank his 10 full-lengths. Because let’s be honest, ten albums worth of material is a lot to dig into. So read on and let Turner guide you through 25 years of solid songwriting.

(photo credit: Shannon Shumaker)


Frank: I want to begin with the caveat that I am the worst person to ask about this, that I will change my mind about this tomorrow, and that my records are like the children I don’t actually have, it’s generally frowned on to pick favourites, but we all know there is a secret hierarchy in play. With that throat clearing done, here goes nothing.


10. Be More Kind (Xtra Mile / Polydor, 2018)


Frank: I like this record in parts, there’s some cool songs, but I often think the songwriting is slightly overshadowed by the experimentation of the production. I was quite excited about loops and synths when we were making this. The song "Be More Kind” works a lot better solo; various people told me this at the time and I ignored them. Sigh. I think I was a little lost at this exact moment in time; nothing wrong with that in the arc of a career, it’s good to wander off reservation sometimes. My walkabout record (not the pub).



9. Poetry Of The Deed (Xtra Mile / Epitaph, 2009)


Frank: After “Love Ire & Song” this was all set to be a massive breakout record, so of course I rushed it and slightly screwed the pooch. The big songs on this record are bangers that are in the set forever. When we did a full album playback for the 10th anniversary, the back end of the set was… less ecstatically received. I should have spent more time writing, and especially arranging this record. But hey, lots of people like it, which is why writing lists like this sucks, because now someone is going to email me and complain.




8. Sleep Is For The Week (Xtra Mile , 2007)


Frank: I’m very fond of this record, in a kind of head-patting way, but that’s not quite the same as thinking it’s amazing. I was working out what I was doing on this album, you can hear it in the songs. It’s rough and ready, it’s occasionally uncertain. But it hits the mark more than it misses, I think, and there’s a kind of innocence in your first round of writing that you can’t get back. It got tepid reviews when it came out; I’m still playing large chunks of it live 17 years (and counting) later. I win.




7. No Man’s Land (Xtra Mile/ Polydor , 2019)



Frank: This record got kind of monstered when it came out, which really sucked on a lot of levels. God knows I could have handled some of the promotional rhetoric around it better, but I think this is a great set of songs, and I was trying to do something both useful (with my platform) and new (for me). It was an experiment both musically and lyrically, and I think it lands pretty well in places. I’m super proud of “Nica”, “Eye Of The Day”, “William Blake” - those are some deep, complex bits of writing. One British “music” “magazine” literally reviewed the press release not the songs (and proudly said so). It’s a shame, I guess, that the twitter arguments stopped most people listening to the music. Oh 21st Century, you fucking suck. I’m sort of hoping someone might critically reappraise this one someday and tell me it’s genius.




6. Positive Songs For Negative People (Xtra Mile, 2015)


Frank: See, these kinds of lists are stupid, why is this at number 6? Anyway. At its best, this record contains some of my best work, and should be number 1 on this list. There’s a couple of misses here I think... Wait no I just googled the track listing and this record is great. Lots of people said it was a bad idea to put out a song called “Mittens”, and a worse one to have a video featuring me dressed as Elvis getting slapped (no one really got that one, but it’s art dammit), but I still back it. I’m now protesting this list. PSFNP for #1!




5. Tape Deck Heart (Xtra Mile / Polydor / Interscope, 2013)



Frank: For a lot of people, this will be number 1, but this is my list, so screw you. I’m a contrarian, underdeveloped punk child, so when this record was very successful I obviously decided I hated it. The production was cleaner than I was perhaps expecting, and it was my first time with a ‘big name’ producer (Rich Costey). There’s one or two misses on the list here, but when we played the record in full for the anniversary I had to grudgingly admit that this is a really good album (ahem). “Broken Piano” is one of my favourite songs I ever did. A lot of people found me through this album, and I’m grateful for that.




4. FTHC (Xtra Mile / Polydor, 2022)



Frank: Again, this album should be higher. Then again, I have a kind of regular process of being a bit down on the last thing I did, it helps me move forward as a writer, so maybe this should be here. This was kind of a transitional record in a lot of ways - through the pandemic, changing drummers, working with Rich Costey again (but remotely, which was weird). But ultimately it was also a homecoming of sorts, I came back from the Be More Kind walkabout, played some more electric guitar, did some shouting, it felt good. More people should care about “The Resurrectionists”, in my opinion. That’s a good song.




3. Love Ire & Song (Xtra Mile / Epitaph, 2008)



Frank: Alright fine, this is a good album. Lots of people’s favourite, which I really should be less affronted by and just accept that some people can be right about these things. This record, in retrospect, feels like one of those moments where my scissors were gliding through the wrapping paper. I can’t really say why but a lot of things clicked here and I sort of figured out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to say. There was some magic in the air. I even accidentally deleted one song during record (whoops) which honestly would have been the weak link if it had made it on there. Higher powers at work? We made this album for like less than a grand, and it’s long gone gold. That’s pretty cool.




2. England Keep My Bones (Xtra Mile / Epitaph, 2011)



Frank: You can tell where I’m going with this list now, obviously, but hear me out. I feel very lucky in my career. Firstly, I had one at all after Million Dead broke up, and a second chance is rare enough. Then, after Love Ire & Song (and the comparative slip of Poetry Of The Deed), I found my stride again, and made this album, which is, I think, both different and better. There’s not much to quibble with here, I back every song (though of COURSE “Balthazar Impresario” should have been on the album proper). I’m proud of this - look ma, I made an album! It didn’t suck!




1. Undefeated (Xtra Mile, 2024)



Frank: I’d imagine it’s sort of traditional for these pieces for people to put their new effort at the top. I mean, I’m not going to put it at number 6 or something, realistically. Terrible PR. I am genuinely stoked on this record though (obviously; if I wasn’t we’d still be in the studio). It’s the first with Callum on drums, the first I produced myself. We all feel reinvigorated. It’s full of bangers - 14 songs in 45 minutes. No one reading this (at time of publication) will have heard the whole thing, so you have to defer to my judgement here anyway - IT’S A MASTERPIECE. 



Tom Dumarey
Tom Dumarey

Lacking the talent to actually play in a band, Tom decided he would write about bands instead. Turns out his writing skills are mediocre at best as well.