I’m not sure if this is a recording project or something set up as an operational band in the sense that any of us think we know what that is anymore… Where people are at with musical endeavours or ambitions after the last few years of disruption is an unfolding mystery right now.
VIOLENT MOOD SWING comprises personnel that I am familiar with through their yesteryear bands – Rumble, Strikniën D.C., MO7s and another guy – I have no idea who he is or what he’s been involved with (sorry other guy!) … (edit: Drummer Colin Berrill previously played with the Mercy Killers and the Gurriers) It’s a DIY yellow vinyl release, which suggests it was recorded in 2020 or very early 2021, and then sat in a manufacturing queue for a year and a half… Such is the unfortunate nature of delays to facilitate 12 disc reissues of USE YOUR ILLUSION and other similarly questionable extravagances. And I feel obliged to mention that this particular record arrived here through the post in a jiffy bag – an act of absolute heresy.
The ten tracks on IN REGARDS TO YOUR PREVIOUS EMAIL straddle a range of styles, but it’s resolutely a punk record in construction, delivery and blatant disregard for any aspect of digestibility.
TEAR FROM A GLASS EYE opens the album in Morricone pastiche mode – It’s finely executed fanfare (and also the only time when whistling is allowed in music) so no problems there. This leads straight into ELECTRIC SOUP, a fast psychobilly-flavoured thing with a repeated ranting mantra – uncomplicated and promising. SEX MACHINE is a schizoid mix of several things – anthemic punk with nonsense lyrics when it works, and irritating when its vocals hang onto that blatant Lemmy curl. There are also spoken samples from some source or other… It’s a very 1990s thing and I’m not sure what any of this adds to the track…
The stomping bedrock of COOL YOUR JETS is chunky, mid-paced and creative and the video of the band nerding out with their swords and fleece shoulder carpets was fun in a stupid sort of way, but that spoken passage is grating… When Irish people do this, no matter the lyrical content, it reminds me of that horribly pretentious A House song about all the dead people that Hot Press readers and Waterboys apologists drooled over way back when… Best avoided. It also crowds out what seems like an otherwise interesting orchestral arrangement.
CARNIVAL OF SPIES is the strongest track on the A side with its indeterminate Latino/Mediterranean shuffle structure that simply circles around itself for the track’s 2:50 duration. This was accompanied by a video to promote the album to the world…
Opening side B, SUPER RAT is a fine dirty garage-punk yoke with some guitar ideas unfortunately buried in the mix. HETROSEXUALS feels like an underdeveloped concept and a sardonic message that doesn’t quite land anywhere near the dart board – I’m sure the track knows perfectly what it’s supposed to be, but I don’t. DAMIAN MCARDLE’S DREAM is musically capable but puts all its stock in an in-joke and a dreadful chorus mantra. If Mr Damian McCardle’s dream was so great that its enlightenment drove the band to lyrics, then it deserves better.
From here there is a notable upswing in quality and the final three tracks take care of business. DANGERLINE’s new wave stylings are a well-considered burst of colour. This is the band flexing its creativity in the right direction and a foundational organ line does wonders for the track. HAPPY HORMONES possibly the album’s highlight… Psychedelic and innovative, this shifts from acoustic to melodic punk to a super-interesting riff-y build-up and orchestrated passage on the lead-out. Now, why couldn’t there have been more of this? Finally, AMYGDALA MAN is wonderfully trashy – brief and determined in its focus to deliver a punky garage bookend to the album.
IN REGARDS TO YOUR PREVIOUS EMAIL is a scatty mix of solid ideas and a few that are borderline terrible – What ultimately makes the album a frustrating listen is that the playing is exemplary but the filter is missing. Too often, the album hangs on ideas that feel like they were concocted as drunken jokes but somehow deemed workable in the cold light of day. And the visual presentation is a misfire – VIOLENT MOOD SWING has a circular skull logo that’s cool in a dumb sort of way, but it represents the band and audio experience perfectly – Why this is relegated to secondary reproduction the back and doesn’t take up the whole front cover of the album is a bit of a mystery, especially given the dubious visual concept that the album is packaged in.
I’m not sure where you can get this or if it’s even out yet… I will update this information as soon as I have it.
Related reading… PETE JOHNSON – Screwball – CD (self released/not on label 2019)