“You’ll probably need a lie down after the first listen.”

That’s what I was told. This was from a friend I trusted very much for his musical recommendations. “It’s tough, and listening to the whole thing in one sitting will drain you more than anything”, he said. Nerves outlined excitement, then, when I jumped in. “It came out of nowhere” escapes Toby Hayes’ mouth in opener ‘The Torso Was Severed In Mid-Throax’. Yeah, that’s about right. The ups and downs that the first track alone possessed was more visceral than any other note of music I’d heard in my life. Six or seven of the best hardcore tracks you’ve ever heard, given one title and crushed in the space of four minutes.
Original Release: 24th September 2007
Label: Big Scary Monsters
FFO: At The Drive In, Secondsmile, Colour

Quite the introduction, Meet Me In St. Louis. Hi.
Hayes showcased one of the best voices to emerge from post-hardcore at the time. It wasn’t your typical voice to accompany the staggered, frenetic instrumentation that made up MMISL. It could have, and has since, fronted acoustic and indie acts. It was, amongst a pile of other things, this unusual mix that gave the band that special attractiveness.

There is so much deviation in each track, with no tempo, melody or guitar line staying the same for any more than twenty seconds. At almost exactly 2 minutes in ‘I Am Champagne, You Are Shit’ (I apologise for the preciseness, it’s hard to say “you know, that bit” with MMISL songs..), a pop rock chorus just somehow shows itself, soaring and warming the ears. Obviously it doesn’t stick around for long; replaced with another electrifying sector of uncomfortable time signatures. They’re not introductions or verses or choruses. What are they? Fucking brilliant, whatever they are.

Perhaps the most powerful moment on the record is the dive back into the chaos with ‘Ein Ewei Drei Hasselhoff’ after the relative respite of ‘I Beat Up The Bathroom, I’m Sorry’. Hah, don’t expect that much of a break, you guys. It’s the only let up between the start and the delicate instrumental closer ‘You’re Doomed’. It’s an actual task to not tear off your headphones, slam the door, and release all these buried frustrations that have somehow bubbled to the top while listening to this fascinatingly aggressive, open record.

Variations On Swing stayed away from anything easy, simple, obvious and apparent, and its subversion is polarising but absolutely incessant and glorious. That wail of feedback. Those two snare hits. More energy in the first ten seconds of the first track than most albums manage to pack in in their entirety.It was a great idea on paper, and in actuality it became, and still is, one of the greatest albums this genre has ever seen.

Standout tracks: ‘Ein Zwei Drei Hasslehoff’ / ‘The Torso Was Severed In Mid Thorax’ / ‘All We Need Is A Little Energon, And A Lot Of Luck’