There are times when all you need is a good protest song to get your frustration out. Fortunately, The Miller Test has your back and a whole album full of protest songs. This Funk Is Political bypasses the more obvious protest targets and uses the band’s genre-defying sound to get their anger across. Each track focuses on a different target with some being cryptic, others cynical, but all downright seething.
Mink (vocals, guitar, keys), Emma (vocals), Matt (guitar, keys), Sam (bass, guitar) and Gav (drums, percussion) speed from shouting disco-pop to smooth and harmonic soul. Full of something to say, the band turns their feelings into something that is riotous, restless and too catchy by far. You will be having fun while getting your frustration out when listening to this album.
The album starts with ‘Famous World’ which opens with this wonderful piano line and Emma’s vocals. Mink’s vocals break through the hazy mood the opening sets to direct your attention to lyrics. There are a few layers to this song that work together creating a combination of disco notes with jagged electro-funk. These electronic notes zing in the background before the guitars thrash against you.
‘Karaoke Lovers’ uses this guitar riff to draw you into the infectious vocals. This song has a much heavier feeling to it that comes through with the smashing guitars. There is a shouty aggression to this song within the melody. Overall, this is a very catchy track with a rhythm section that will not let up. The arrangement makes you move to the beat for some good old-fashioned fun.
‘Up, Down, Sideways and Strange’ has a much funkier beat to it that grabs onto you and does not let go. The melody is captivating while the lighter vocals add this fun element to them. Mink’s vocals are a deeper layer that draws you into the lyrics. The instrumentation is infectious with these notes coming and going but working together to make you move. The wavering and undulating tones that come later in the track get you further into the vibe.
The guitar and piano opening of ‘Better Than You’ is a drop from the upbeat track before it, but draws you in with these undertones. The falsetto vocals are not what you are expecting after the other songs, but works so well with the almost gentle melody. The lightness of the melody floats against your ears as the vocals draw you in. This is perhaps the most laid-back protest song you are going to hear for a while.
The next track is ‘Bigger Soul’ that has an almost surf feeling to the opening. While this is new on the album, you are taken back to Mink’s deeper vocals that rest on your shoulders with this wonderful familiarity. This is another easy to listen to track on the album, but the lyrics have a lot of imagery in them. The harmonisations on this song add this extra element to the arrangement that you can’t help but get lost in.
‘Cola Mambo’ uses a staticky opening to get your attention. You might think that something has gone wrong with the recording at first, but this deep guitar line enters to let you know everything is good. There is a sense of tension in this single that is build up by the guitars. The vocal arrangement continues to build this tension which does not stop. While tense, this song is irresistible from the vocals to the harmonisations to the shouting.
The electric guitar and twinkling notes in the opening of ‘Soul is Made of Blood’ sets a somewhat ominous tone for the track. The clicking gives the single a very rat pack vibe to it while maintaining the darkness. There is something smooth within the darkness of this song that makes you move your shoulders to the rhythm. The piano lines also combine with the sinister guitar to continue the old-time feeling.
‘House of Flops’ has both a light feeling and a dark depth. It is an interesting interplay of opposites created by dark guitar notes and lighter acoustics. The vocal performance is more aggressive on this track bringing the darkness out, but the higher backing vocals form the light layer. While a dichotomy, the single is also unbelievably unified. It is a serious sonic experience that will stick with you.
The album ends with the light piano opening of ‘Love My Criminal’. The flowing piano lines combine with Emma’s ethereal vocals. Mink’s vocals are not as airy, but there is something about them that soars over you. The swing between Mink and Emma’s vocals is wonderful and pushes the message of the track more. It is a wonderfully smooth end to the album.
The Miller Test takes protest songs to a new level as they swing from ethereal vocals to funky beats in This Funk is Political. Each track has a unique vibe to it matching the different subject matter. If you are looking for a different type of protest song both sonically and lyrically, this is the album for you.