Reviews

Viagra Boys
Street Worms

(YEAR0001)

8/10

Following two EPs of promising if not revelatory garage-punk, Viagra Boys’ ‘Street Worms’ offers few surprises but comes armed with lashings of charisma and character.

What progresses ‘Street Worms’ from those EPs is the increased confidence of vocalist Sebastian Murphy, coupling a louche baritone with a rich sense of the absurd – it’s a juxtaposition that will sound familiar to fans of Nick Cave’s work on the two Grinderman records. “I’m not like those other boys!” wails Murphy on opener ‘Down in the Basement’, his hysteria increasing in tandem with the group grinding a one-riff workout into a thrilling mess of distortion.

It’s on ‘Sports’ that Viagra Boys are at their most singular and engaging. Introduced by a tribal, mid-tempo drumbeat, Murphy sounds at his most Iggy Pop as he laconically deadpans a surrealist list of “baseball, basketball, weiner dog, short shorts, cigarette.” The cumulative effect is the Stockholm group conjuring a kind of American horror – more than this, though, it’s also pleasingly self-referential in its critique of the machismo and cliché inherent within garage rock.

And though the record does feature a spoken word monologue about an intergalactic dog competition (‘Best in Show’), Viagra Boys avoid the knowingly wacky pastiche that marks their fellow retro revivalists The Lemon Twigs. Indeed, with its slow, throbbing disco and spacier, more contemporary production, ‘Just Like You’ offers a glimpse of what it might sound like when Viagra Boys start really transcending their influences. Until then, ‘Street Worms’ is a spirited and potent start.

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