Millie Manders & The Shutup – Wake Up, Shut Up, Work

  • Peter Hough posted
  • Reviews
Millie Manders

Millie Manders & The Shutup

Wake Up, Shut Up, Work - Self Released

Even the first listen to the 12 songs that comprise this band’s second album confirms two usually mutually exclusive themes here. One is that this album is, first and foremost, unmistakably Millie Manders and the Shutup, with all the trademark musical flavours you would expect. The other is that there has been a subtle change in the emphasis on musicality since 2020’s debut Telling Truths, Breaking Ties, with a greater focus on bringing out the individuality in the writing and in the performance. MMATSU have always been joyously cross-genre with a broad appeal that transcends any narrow definition. While always the vehicle for Millie‘s musical vision, MMATSU have created a synergy that truly showcases the full range of talents in the arsenal.

If there is an aspect to this band’s songwriting that has caused some tensions with a few fans in the past, it has been Millie‘s unflinching determination to address real life issues, personal and political. This album does not shy away from tough truths and certainly reprises those previously explored themes of well-being, victim blaming, inclusivity and geo-politics in an uncompromising way. This sometimes makes for uncomfortable listening, but that’s the power of Millie‘s lyrical bravery and it is a vital aspect of her work. Arguably, what is the point of art if not to generate discussion and contribute to the debate? Above all, this is a fundamentally human, honest approach and a welcome antidote to the bland, corporate monolith that is today’s pop music.

Millie Manders

This album kicks off with an uplifting, buzzing guitar riff that crashes into life as Angry Side – a short (2:41) sharp stab of melodic pop punk rock iced with trademark bursts of brass. A song that Pink could easily take to the upper reaches of any chart, and thereby demonstrate the triumph of big label marketing over raw talent. The collaborative writing process has generated an album that is bursting with styles and flavours, from the straight-out rock of Me Too and Pressure, through the band’s trademark ska-tinged punk (Fun Sponge, Windows and Threadbare) to dreamy pop (the particularly beautiful and affecting Halloween) and high-octane powerpop (Rebound). There is also a perspective-change reworking of fan favourite One That Got Away A V. In all of the above, three formidable elements combine: Millie‘s huge vocal; tight and joyfully exuberant musicality; and a passionate lyrical courage. 

While Millie is a ferocious and powerful force in British indie music and her product is fiercely personal and focused, this is still very much an ensemble piece. It’s an album created by a band working as a tight and confident unit striving to realise a strong and uncompromising musical vision. It has been a long three years since the COVID-released Telling Truths, Breaking Ties. The wait is over. Get your dancing shoes and listening ears on, ‘cos this one’s an absolute belter. Very highly recommended.

Wake Up, Shut Up, Work by Millie Manders and the Shutup is released on 2nd August, with a release show at the Rebellion Festival. The album is available to pre-order on CD and vinyl via the band here, through independent record stores (Banquet Records / Cool Discs / Crash Records / Resident Records / Rough Trade / Sister Ray Records / Truck Music) and Amazon.