Reviews

Viagra Boys
Welfare Jazz

(YEAR0001)

7/10

“We wrote these songs at a time when I had been in a long-term relationship, taking drugs every day, and being an asshole,” Viagra Boys’ American-born frontman Sebastian Murphy explains of the band’s upcoming album, Welfare Jazz. “I didn’t really realise what an asshole I was until it was too late, and a lot of the record has to do with coming to terms with the fact that I’d set the wrong goals for myself.” That this thread runs throughout the 13-track album comes as no surprise.

Since their founding in 2015, the Swedish band have developed their own unique brand of post-punk arseholery, burying sentimentality beneath layers of faux machismo, neo-Dadaist protest and an inherently meta approach to musical satire. From their distorted EP Consistency of Energy (2016) and the stingingly scuzzy Call of the Wild (2017) to their live recorded Shrimptech Enterprises set, to their blisteringly piss-taking debut album, Street Worms, Viagra Boys’ music has always been genre-shattering and searingly derisory. 

Welfare Jazz continues in this vein. To a greater degree than ever before, it lays bare the band’s increasing concern with urgent contemporary issues; among them racism, classism, toxic masculinity and misogyny. While ‘Girls and Boys’ takes us on a surreal, saxophone-smattered tour of outdated gender roles, ‘Creatures’ uses squared-off synths and Mark E. Smith-inspired spoken-word social commentary to evoke images of sub-aquatic apocalypse. On this album, with their trademark snarls and ferocious contempt, Viagra Boys succeed in rendering the personal political and the mundane absurd.

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