Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
First impressions count. None more so than when a band releases their debut album, this one time shot at blowing the doors off that will either see you heading to the heady heights of success or dejectedly back to the rehearsal room, figuring if you’ve chosen the right career path.
Judging by the strength of this first full-length release, Millie Manders And The Shutup are looking at a future of sold out tours and their faces peering from posters on the walls of thousands of bedrooms.
‘Telling Truths, Breaking Ties’ is a sugar-coated adrenaline rush from the first note to the last, a hugely energized blast of high velocity punk, ska, pop and rock.
It shines in a gloriously technicolour explosion of irresistible tunes but is never just dumb, throwaway fun as a sharp intellect and firey passion lies at the centre of it all.
The delivery is breathless from the start, the glorious ‘Your Story’ bursting out of the speakers in a riot of hooks and skyscraping joy that will have you grinning uncontrollably whilst you demolish your whole house.
Guitars charge as horns jab and the bass and drums thunder, all as the thrilling vocals dive and swoop all over this musical assault.
The tornado continues with the likes of the bouncy ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Here We Go Again (Black Dog)’, the latter one of the tracks that looks at the subject of mental health that peppers the album.
It would be a huge mistake to label the album as one that just entertains with its forceful energy as, below the upbeat rhythms, there is a genuine insight into the human condition as they peel back the layers that most would want hidden.
You can feel the frustration at the injustice and get a real sense that here is a band who sees the homeless and fragile needing more than just a feint smile and rapidly averted eyes.
From the miniature tics and subtle signals seen when someone is desperate for help in ‘Silent Screams’ through to the global need to be more aware of what we’re doing to the environment of ‘Panic ‘ the band are never afraid to speak out about what truly matters.
Highlights are many, with the huge metal guitars of the furious and insistently catchy pace of the wrecking ball that is ‘Bitter’ through to the fantastically quirky vocal harmonies and wonderfully retro New Wave vibe of closer ‘Burnout’ being just two amongst a near perfect album.
The jewel in the crown of ‘Telling Tales, Breaking Ties’ is the heartbreaking and unutterably gorgeous ‘Glitter Mix’, a song that is as sublime as anything you’re likely to hear this year or any other.
Perfectly constructed around a powerful and constantly rolling guitar and piano pattern, this tale of seeing someone losing a fight against addiction hits hard, Millie’s stunning vocals showing a sweetness and strength as they move from compassion to desperation and onto devastation, sometimes in the space of one line.
Again, this is dealt with on a very human level, no sniff of an attempt to crowbar in anything resembling a ballad to reach a wider audience but a genuinely brilliant bit of songwriting and performances that will stay with you for weeks to come.
A massive achievement and one that stands shoulder to shoulder with anything out at the moment, debuts seldom come as good as this. The world needs bands like Millie Manders And The Shutups, it’s as simple as that.