One of my favorite things about punk, as a genre, is when chaos is expressed through mixing different genres and creating a sound that is unique. Millie Manders and the Shutup’s new release Shutup – EP gives us a glimpse of this magic.
The album opens with a soulful raspy solo vocal but quickly explodes into a cacophony of horns which is then subsequently mixed with an aggressive lyrical delivery that is equal parts UK grime and the punk-ska stylings of Sonic Boom 6. “The Right to Life”, a song about animal rights, showcases Millie’s vocal chops. From the opening jazzy solo, to the fast as lightning rap, to the growl through clenched teeth, this track blends a lot of influences and Millie is more than capable of delivering with style.
The second song “Brave” continues to explore the boundaries between grime and punk with some fantastic instrumentation. I cannot decide which part I like most, the bass and drum lines, the slick guitar work or the jazzy horns during the breakdown. It truly is allowing Millie Manders and the Shutup to “break the walls, burn down the doors, and recreate our (their) world” in a unique way.
“Lollipops” follows this with a more straightforward punk rock jam that has infectious guitar work pushed by a driving drum line and punctuated by a very busy horn section. In a song about the refugee crisis, they display both a high degree of empathy and rage.
The last of this four song trip is “One That Got Away” and it is a more traditional ska-core ripper. Featuring the classic back and forth between metal guitar riffs and loud blaring horns, it’s a song that would be at home on a Devils Night Out era Bosstones playlist. This song showcases Millie’s outstanding rockstar voice.
My concern with this album is that there is magic in the first two songs and they seem to move away from that as the album progresses. There is a unique sound that stands out among the plethora of ska/ska punk releases this year. Even “Lollipops” seems to be a natural derivative of this formula if you want to mix up the ingredients. Then comes “One That Got Away” which from a technical standpoint is a great ska-core song as it is catchy, poppy, and has a memorable chorus that will have you singing along. But so will a lot of other albums that have been released this year. The reason you will return to this album more often is found in the earlier songs.
Shutup – EP gets 4 stars from me, mainly because of the sample size. 3 out of the 4 songs are beautifully mashed chaos that demand attention. The fourth, while still being super solid ska-core, degrades the energy of the album. I know the math does not quite add up, but the album is so excellent otherwise, I rounded up on the stars.