ALBUM REVIEW: Millie Manders And The Shut Up – Telling Truths, Breaking Ties (self-released)
Two minutes and 15 seconds. That’s how long it takes for the realisation to hit that you’re listening to a very special artiste indeed.
That’s when Millie, the effervescent singer and multi-instrumentalist leader of MMATSU, launches into an astonishing vocal display which is one of those rare musical moments which genuinely makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The range, power and vocal dexterity she shows on Your Story, the opening track of this debut album, is no one-off, but that moment alone should be enough to make record company executives sit up and take notice.
MMATSU are a cross-genre punk band who combine elements of punk, ska, pop and post-hardcore, and this self-released record (available from their website HERE on red vinyl and CD and as a download from the usual outlets) marks them out as one of the UK’s brightest up and coming bands.
Your Story (previously released as a single) sets the bar very high for the next nine songs, but they don’t disappoint. Not once. This is as accomplished a first album as any band could wish to make.
It’s all new tracks, with the five-piece preferring to write new material than revisit older songs released on the handful of previously-released EPs.
This album arrives with MMATSU fully formed: guitars with bite, a rock-solid rhythm section and horns that swing. As for Millie, she could sing you the phone book, if they’re still a thing, and make it sound good.
Broken Records is an upbeat, horns-inflected number about getting over a failed relationship, and sounds a little like Lily Allen in places (but don’t let that put you off).
Here We Go Again (Black Dog) tackles coping with depression, which Millie has always been extremely up front about, and the same subject rears its head on the excellent Not Okay.
The verses of Silent Screams are rapped, while the choruses veer off into post-hardcore territory, and the breakup song Bitter sees Millie spit the words like an accomplished MC, while the band head into rockier places – think Skunk Anansie and you’re not far away.
Poor Man’s Show shows a social conscience, while laying bare pretty much everything that’s wrong with this country in 2020 (and giving Millie the chance to show off her skill on the ukelele), while Panic Master reflects on the environmental disaster facing Planet Earth.
The title of Glitter Mix sounds like it might be a disco-influenced banger, but turns out to be a doleful song about drug addiction, bringing a real change of pace to an otherwise jaunty record.
The closing Burnout, which is the latest single, is about the everyday sacrifices people have to make to follow their dreams, and you could be listening to pop powerhouse P!nk, as Millie shares her raw, soulfulness.
This album is right up there with the very best releases of 2020. Do yourself a favour and discover Millie Manders And The Shut Up before everyone else does. 9/10.