Released 23rd of October, Millie Manders and The Shutup’s debut LP Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is a crisp and witty alternative rock album, sporting a rich variety in vocal styles, at times resembling punk, modern pop and even hip-hop. However, it is this huge variety of styles that are (mostly successfully) approached that results in a record that can feel fragmented, despite the memorable nature of each fragment.
Whilst Millie’s lyrics aren’t exactly ground-breaking, including topics of angst, politics and questioning social norms, they are always backed by incredible charisma and violent guitar. Elements of ska come through particularly in “Poor Man’s Show,” with Manders’ laidback chorus coming through as an overall standout moment on the album. Her rap-like segments on the track also stand out, but partly because of the slight dissonance: the confrontational tone she takes juxtaposes too heavily with the chorus and the ska-like instrumental.
‘Glitter Mix’ is another standout, with an almost rock ballad feel to it as she once again flexes her vocal versatility. Piano and guitar blends together seamlessly here, creating something of a moment of respite from the rest of the album’s intensity– but implying that the track lacks that would be silly.
The album closes with the triumphant single ‘Burnout,’ which has a music video here. Alongside ‘Glitter Mix’ it was a personal favourite of mine, although the song topic here is quite different: Millie sings of the universally relatable feeling of ‘Burnout,’ a problem so common in the lives of the working class. Her harsh criticism comes at a time where people will be suffering it most, multiplying its relevance tenfold.
Overall, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is without a doubt an engaging listen, with the concern about the album’s fragmented nature being one irrelevant to some. Their debut is one bursting with talent, and I’m excited to see what they do next.
You can listen to the album on Spotify here, or purchase physical editions and merchandise from the band’s website here. Sales of physical editions and merchandise help raise money for for The Survivors Trust – an umbrella charity for survivors of rape and sexual abuse – NHS Charities Together, and the mental health charities Mind and Papyrus.