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Mighty Handful, The: Men In Stasis ii

One of the most interesting but underusing acts of recent years must be the UK’s The Mighty Handful, an outfit who, across a number of EPs and a full length release, have covered the gamut musically from raunchy 70s rock to progressive masterpieces via piano led ballad crooners and the occasional full on heavy rock escapade. For me, their more understated, piano led 2021 EP, Men In Stasis was possibly the most riveting release they have put together. Now, a year later, comes the second part in what will be a three part saga examining our relationship with the pressures that bear down on us, while also with this latest instalment, daring to reach for solutions.

As ever in this band’s world, nothing is simple, hence my first observation was that three song titles here are almost identical to those found on the previous EP, “The Signal”, “The Crucible” and “The Stand” now being “The Signal ii”, “The Crucible ii” and “The Stand ii”, although, it would appear these are not the same songs reworked. Confused? Well, just give the tracks a listen and clarity is assured because all three new songs are engaging, involved and impressive. Again, compare this release to the last and it’s like listening to a different band entirely, with the almost Elton John meets Bowie approach often found on EP one in this series nowhere in evidence. Instead, we get something much more expansive and much more progressive and for me, the closest touching point this time is The Tangent, especially on “The Crucible ii”, where the talking/singing call and response hits remarkably like Andy Tillison’s vocal style. Musically, that track and the one that precedes it find a stunning balance between Ralph Blackburn’s expressive keyboard contributions and Christopher James Harrison’s fabulous guitar workouts. Along the way Tom Halley’s bass and Gary Mackenzie’s drums maintain the equilibrium, with some dextrous playing from both never over egging the pudding as they still somehow provide the glue that holds everything together.

“The Stand ii” closes the EP out, the guitars finally alluding to some of TMH’s more straight out rocking tendencies. Singer Matt Howes once again proves to be a human chameleon, here almost having a punk sneer in his arsenal, which when compared to the much more storytelling style found elsewhere comes as something of a shock. But then as the song winds down so things suddenly become more linked to the first EP in this series, with piano and vocals taking centre stage before building into an electrified crescendo that not only gets the hair on your neck standing on end, but the blood in your veins flowing at pace. Add in intelligent, thought provoking lyrics that suggest we should be looking at the world around us in a different way and maybe begin to see things as they really are, and everything about this EP really is perfectly locked in place.

I’ve said this before, and doubtless I’ll say it again, but if you check out one act this year that you’ve never heard before, make it The Mighty Handful, you most certainly will not be disappointed.

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

Added: September 1st 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Mighty Handful online
Hits: 440
Language: english

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