Millie Manders and the Shutup

Telling Truths, Breaking Ties

Written by: MAK on 29/10/2020 03:05:15

Watching the project of ska-punk band Millie Manders and the Shutup grow over the last five years has been an adventure. From discovering the band at Boomtown in 2015, go through various lineup changes and move up the ranks in the UK punk and ska scene. Moving from opening the likes of Faintest Idea in 100 cap venues to headlining DIY events such as Arrowfest and Pie Race in just a couple of years. You could hardly blink at the pace that Millie Manders and co were rising and next thing you know is that the band is killing it to larger crowds at Rebellion and sharing stages with ska-punk icons Goldfinger at the highly established Brixton Academy.

I say ska-punk because that is the flavour of Millie Manders and the Shutup plenty of us were introduced to in recent years, with the happy sounding skank worthy anthems such as “Right To Life” or “Obsession Transgression”. However, 2020 has delivered us a darker edged Manders with the band’s debut full-length album “Telling Truths, Breaking Ties”. The emphasis on these tracks are less “ska” and more “punk” and more experimental towards rockier influences than on previous works and Manders appears to have unleashed some shackles to showcase her angst towards the world.

“Your Story” immediately packs a punch with some nice crunchy chords and some impactful brass hooks to nod your head to as they are layered behind the vocalist’s impressive singing voice. The singing is nice and soothing in the verse, but the vocal power in the chorus is truly captivating, reaching some wonderfully high notes. The singer’s depth continues to shine as she mixes singing and shouting towards the end. “Broken Record” then hits as a catchy brass rocker with some nice grooves, but once again it’s the singer’s vocal melodies that shine through that make the track so infectious. The track shows the maturity of the band, introducing heavier hooks, balanced well with sax melodies and a great array of sing-along segments.

“Here We Go Again (Black Dog)” touches on suffering from depression. While the topic is not so light, the early parts of the track are quite chirpy with a catchy chorus, though it evolves into somewhat of a skacore banger with dirty grooves, angst-ridden vocals and heavier sounding brass hooks. “Silent Screams” showcases a side to the band we haven’t truly tasted before. An alt-rock ballad with a rappy/spoken word style verse that allows a huge singing chorus to shine. The contrast between each segment compliments each other perfectly. It’s hard-hitting and very powerful emotionally, and in some ways, it reminds me of P!nk

This eases us in nicely to “Bitter”, a pure rock anthem that feels like it would have served brilliantly on Kerrang TV in its early 2000s prime. Manders unleashes her inner Corey Taylor, delivering brute vocals for a fast shouty verse on top of chuggy riffs and awesome grooves. All the while the chorus is catchy and poppy for another well-balanced anthem that taps into the heaviest elements of the band so far. What follows is “Poor Man’s Show”, a rap-fronted reggae track in which Manders spits her rage about the topics of homelessness, NHS cuts and corrupt parliaments that turn a blind eye, musically it’s a softer track, but topically it hits just as hard as “Bitter”.

“Panic” has it all, a pulsing brass-heavy rock/nu-metal track that urges us to panic about issues of global warming and rising seas. The riffs are hard, the harsher vocals that shift between singing and shouting accompany the heavy vibes sublimely, yet the continuing theme of catchy choruses remains making it so easy to want to join in singing along. “Glitter Mix” is a full-on powerful rock ballad that comes out of the blue. Manders' voice is truly beautiful as it is backed by tender piano melodies. It’s a track that oozes depth in talent. Yet its followed by probably the only outright ska-punk anthem on the album, bringing us back to the “fun” Manders of previous releases. “Burnout closes us out with more punk rock vibes, a somewhat darker tone blended with a pop element, singing about the adventures of being on the road even when times feel tough.

The main thing I can say about this album is that it is both expected and unexpected. Millie Manders and The Shutup don’t rest on the laurels when it comes to growth, each new release has shown new influences that push them forward. The band hasn’t been a stranger to the heavy side before, with “Teddy” being a prime example for an older track, but I’m not sure I anticipated how heavy songs like “Bitter” and “Panic” would be. They are pure bangers that can hook in those that like something that hits harder. Then we have the ballad type tracks. For the most part, previous releases were mostly uplifting, but “Silent Screams” and “Glitter Mix” introduce a very welcome beautiful side to Manders that I definitely didn’t see coming, even though the vocal talent has always been there. The darker edge as a whole mimics the times, and in some ways emulates what a lot of the other bands in the scene is doing in writing grittier music. “Telling Truth, Breaking Ties” is a great, risk-taking album that comes off well, expanding the horizons of everything we knew about this band.


Download: Bitter, Your Story, Panic, Glitter Mix
For The Fans Of: Goldfinger, The Bar Stool Preachers, Riskee and the Ridicule
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.10.2020

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