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Mighty Handful, The: Men In Stasis

In the world of categories and boxes, The Mighty Handful are indeed a mighty handful to classify. Early EPs suggested we had a 60s band playing 70s glam through a prog spectrum at a metal festival, whereas their recent full length album, Touchy Subjects, was a much more taught 70s rock affair that confounded expectations to still land triumphant. Men In Stasis turns, as we might now anticipate, everything on its head once more and points in a direction that wasn’t even on the signpost ahead.

A three track EP where you’d suggest that the main instrument to the fore is piano, there’s still a strong air of that 70s decade where it would appear this band’s heart resides and yet, all three cuts are tender, heartfelt and pretty much contained. That’s not to say that they aren’t far reaching, because they are, unusual lyrical inspiration still relevant to the every day, while the music itself verges on beautifully melancholic. Arguably it’s keyboard man Ralph Blackbourn and singer (and acoustic guitarist) Matt Howes who shine brightest, the foundations of piano and keys allowing the vocals to shine with a brilliant honesty that’s matched by a nigh on perfect performance.

The opening cut, “The Signal”, which confronts the contradictions of human desire, grows into something Elton John might have crafted in an insightful moment before adding some powering Bowie-like rhythmic ideas. On the other hand, “The Crucible”, rather bizarrely uses a child’s obsession with 1980s World Championship Snooker on TV to show the unfulfilment of unresolved situations. An odd starting point indeed, but Howes is immense here and given a truly wonderful, sparse piano and strings backing, the results are nothing short of incredible.

“The Stand”, which possesses a similarly themed starting point grows into a more band oriented affair that closes out this all too short EP by looking into the heart of human relationships and realising that the only conclusions are that there are no conclusions. Although, even with that said, the one thing you can be certain of is that The Mighty Handful have only gone and done it again. If you’d suggested I’d be sitting here in 2021 listening to tender piano led rock that captivates the soul I’d have worried for your sanity. However, instead, I’ve no hesitation in telling you that Men In Stasis is one of the best releases I’ve heard this year.

Track Listing
1. The Signal
2. The Crucible
3. The Stand

Added: April 22nd 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Mighty Handful
Hits: 547
Language: english

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