Millie Manders and the Shutup, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties
Fierce, vital, vulnerable, and remarkably polished – self-defined “cross-genre punks” Millie Manders and the Shutup release their debut album Telling Truths, Breaking Ties this Friday and it’s a total force to be reckoned with. Manders and her dream team of musicians toss and turn through the ska-punk-hardcore-pop spectrum, sharply handling every musical edge. Debut albums can be a little tentative as artists work out exactly what it is that they want to say – there’s no sign of that on TT,BT. MMATSU are wickedly loud and crystal clear.
Though the album tackles tough subjects pretty much start to finish, MMATSU never sound anything but vibrant. A combination of ever-present brass interjections and non-stop riffs propel each track forward whether it’s with grim resolution, anger, or dark optimism. Whether it means to be or not, TT,BT is a positive record – its honesty makes sure of that. Lead single Silent Screams tackles mental health in a way that’s so blisteringly real that it’s cathartic, and MMATSU come full circle on the topic in late highlight Not Okay. Though it’s not the album closer, Not Okay feels like an end-credits revelation as it soars to anthem levels above a churning glorious instrumental.
Even Poor Man’s Show, a stinging denouncement of the UK’s governmental failures swings from the spitting, dizzy spoken-word verses to an almost dreamy chorus. The reggae-ish chords and ukulele that accompany Manders’ desolate inventory of what’s wrong with society keep the song feeling as light as the lyrics are heavy, making for a fiercely effective dichotomy of helplessness and recognition.
Millie Manders herself is a ferocious frontwoman, and on TT,BT, she utilises her immense range of vocal styles to really reach every corner of punk. The soaring pop-punk hooks of opener Your Story and impossibly catchy anti-anthem Not Okay are just the beginning – Manders can go gritty and intense (Bitter, Panic Master), she can go ethereal and evocative (Glitter Mix, Poor Man’s Show), she can go effortlessly cool (Here We Go Again (Black Dog)) but most of all she can go all-encapsulatingly huge. There’s even hints of musical theatre in the sky-high notes of triumphant closer Burnout and the passionate narrative of Silent Screams – it’s magnetic, and serves to weave the emotional depth of TT,BT constantly throughthe tapestry of the record. Manders is constantly pleading and commanding to be listened to, and you can’t help but soak up every note.
Every aspect of Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is seamlessly threaded – be it the melodic echoes between Your Story and Broken Record, the skilful tracklisting ensuring that each song hits exactly as hard as its supposed to, or the simple fact that every song is a straight up banger. This may just be MMATSU’s debut, but they’ve promised that they’re one of punk’s essential voices, and they’re going to scream until they’re heard.
Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is out this Friday.