Frank Turner’s follow up to Positive Songs for Negative People, the Mittens EP is rife with metaphors. On the five track EP, Turner releases some of his inner-history nerd, and takes on the voice of a sad and confused armadillo.
The EP starts with the title track, “Mittens”, originally a single from Positive Songs. Admittedly, it is probably my least favorite track from the album, but it’s become a fan favorite and the music video, which features Turner in an Elvis Presley costume, is phenomenal. Overall, I just never really bought into the mittens/gloves metaphor, and the tone is a little too poppy for my taste. I definitely prefer the acoustic version of the song on the deluxe version of the album.
The second song is “Least of All Young Caroline”, a song about one of Turner’s younger cousins. This track definitely fits into Turner’s theme of positivity, with a chorus about things getting better and taking steps forward. This was probably my favorite of the new B-sides.
“Little Aphrodite” and “Cleopatra in Brooklyn” both make use of Turner’s background in history. He recently Tweeted that “Little Aphrodite” is in fact the ignored love song mentioned in “Mittens”, and he referred to the song as a “Greek mythology nerdgasm.”
Prepare yourself for a minor greek mythology nerdgasm.
— Frank Turner (@frankturner) March 4, 2016
Both songs are cute, though rely a little heavily on metaphor that, like “Mittens”, I didn’t entirely buy. Still, “Little Aphrodite” is sweet, and I appreciated the mythology. “Cleopatra in Brooklyn” felt almost like it could have introduced a romantic interest in a musical, with its sweeping but gentle chorus.
The last track on Mittens is “The Armadillo”, a cover of a song by Flanders & Swan. Turner is known for doing some interesting covers (including Abba’s “Dancing Queen” and Queen’s “Somebody to Love”), and this is one of my favorites so far. The song follows the narrator as he stumbles upon an armadillo expressing its love to an armored tank, under the impression that it’s another armadillo. The guitarwork on the song is lovely and intricate, and the lyrics are adorable, sad, and hilarious all at once. Turner’s gentle voice lends its sympathies to the armadillo, and leaves you with an impression that he too has expressed his love to the wrong armadillo a time or two.
Rating: 6 out of 8 slices
Goes well with a side of: Bruce Springsteen and golden apples