"Be suspicious of simple answers," warns Frank Turner. "That shit's for fascists and maybe teenagers."
Be More Kind, the latest studio album from Turner, the prolific British post-punk/folk singer who occasionally lets his self-professed classical liberal views slip into his songwriting, is an intensely political record suffused with a sophisticated understanding of the current moment on both sides of the Atlantic.
As in his excellent previous work, Turner's witty songwriting is his best trait. He's winking even while being pissed off at everything around him on "1933," the album's best track. On "Make America Great Again" (yes, really), he gives bits of advice from an "ignorant Englishman" who wishes America's president and his role in the world were "a bit less significant."
But Turner isn't interested in lecturing so much as trying to actually understand the current moment. The answer, he suggests, is to tune out the chaos. If the world is losing its collective mind around you, control what you can. Be civil and kind, as the title track suggests, and use common sense.
Turner sings of walls being raised, both on international borders and "in our heads, between the things that can and can't be said." Division and discord permeate the album, but there's also a sense of hope in little things that makes it an apt tonic for the present moment.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Be More Kind".