Millie Manders and The Shutup – Telling Truths, Breaking Ties – Album Review

Don’t you think the title ‘Your Story’ is much better than the title ‘Your Snapchat’? Millie Manders and the Shutup’s second single from debut album Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is the autobiographical tale of looking through the instagram stories of a brief suitor and wishing they were in them. There’s something a lot more timeless, less likely to date about the language. Whilst it’s about something specific, it maintains an open scope for interpretation. Considering the story feature of Instagram is lifted from the whole premise of Snapchat, choosing the originator would definitely date the song. It risks alienating the audience that the band’s sound is influenced by. 

Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is a hybrid of various genres, bringing in punk, ska, rap, rock and the odd bit of pop with a blend of political, societal and environmental views. There’s also room for expressive exploration of introspective depression thrown in for good measure. Millie Manders is also angry, and that is a throughline for the whole album. 

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The whole of the first half of the album is very much of the ska-punk genre, bringing you in with a lot of fast tempo punk. After the aforementioned ‘Your Story’ the album cuts into ‘Broken Record’, which continues the same tone as the previous song. But the first few tracks of ska-based punk isn’t the whole sound of the album. There’s a definite connecting sound that links everything together which is led by Millie Manders’ vocals, but the album aims to show that they are capable of a lot more than the singles suggest.

‘Here We Go Again (Black Dog)’ continues the momentum with a song about depression, before single ‘Silent Screams’ shows up. Slightly darker, ‘Screams’ again talks about depression and the inability to express it, but shows Manders ska-rapping in a song that will appeal to fans of  Imperial Leisure. The anger kicks back in with ‘Bitter’, which focuses more on the punk side of the equation.

‘Poor Man’s Show’ is a more laid back song in the vein of The Specials, that offers a calmer examination of the economic imbalance in the United Kingdom. The lyrics offer more poignancy in current times, even though the songs were written and recorded before the Covid pandemic. ‘Glitter’ throws in a different emphasis and arguably could make someone think that they’ve started listening to a separate album. The brass instruments are swapped for a piano, the punk anger replaced by operatic singing, and the pace slowed for a break from what has come before. Think more Evanescence as opposed to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones feel of the rest of the album. 

The rest of the second half has some of the album’s highlights. ‘Panic’ is a great track that builds up the angry performance of the band before the brass kicks in with the simple (but very catchy) chorus. The album builds to its climax with the great ‘Burnout’ in which the song’s gradual slowing down feels as if it’s an apt way to end. Bringing forth the punk mentality in the lyrical content as well as the sound, the songs do delve between the personal and observational. There is a strong anti-Government message, particularly ‘Poor Man’s Show’, and ‘Panic’ focuses on the irreversible damage to the environment. 

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The only issue with themes like these in music now is that it feels part of another world in regards to the political aspects, as the world, at the time of writing, is still in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Which casts a shadow over things released that were obviously created before the world entered this new era. Yet the mood and drive behind the album still feels universal and will always be needed. Arriving near the end of October, the album feels like it’s ready to soundtrack another period of the current situation and motivate those who might feel down, despondent and angry. 

Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is an album that will resonate for some, and offer an outlet for any frustration. Any punk fans who like a bit of ska mixed in should definitely give this a listen or two. 

Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is out on 23rd October.

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