Viagra Boys – Welfare Jazz

What the world needs now is love.. NO!… we need Viagra of course! Luckily we found some boys who can deliver just that.

Viagra Boys are a Swedish band that became a pounding punk rock sensation in their homeland around 2015. In the short period after they did what a lot of Scandiavans did before, that is spreading over the rest of Europe. The band’s origins lie in a night of heavy drinking in a karaoke bar. Here founding member Sebastian Murphy blurted out Mariah Carey’sWe Belong Together’ which triggered other founding member Henrik Höckert to form a band. Next morning things were still serious so Höckert recruited guitarist Benjamin Vallé who he knew from another band he had been with and also added a drummer, a saxophonist and keyboardist. Their debut record Street Worms dropped like a bomb in 2018. The record was filled with groovy riffs, sax, discordant guitars and stupid word play about weiner dogs, secret agent frogs and alien goats. That’s right, if you haven’t guessed it already: Viagra Boys is a joke! A joke that got the whole world laughing (and dancing). The fun continues on Welfare Jazz, so let us weave you a little story about this sophomore record.

Like it’s predecessor Welfare Jazz is quirky, anarchistic, and accessible at the same time. The album ignites with Ain’t Nice. Riffs, synths and short bursts of sax bring the same kind of upbeat energy we know from Street Worms. On Toad the band takes another approach. Here they pretend that they’re old bluesmen and exaggerated about not needing no women in their lives. Welfare Jazz gears down after this. Into the Sun is a more darker rock track which easily fits into the world of other alt rock outfits like dEUS or Baltazar. One track later the boys again shift to another genre. Creatures, a radio friendly synth-pop ballad, is among the weakest tacks of the album. Although we have to admit that Murphy’s gruff voice and the sputtering sax gives the track a nice rawish edge.

At the half Viagra Boys use the instrumental 6 Shooter to pick up the pace again. Where back to full form with Secret Canine Agent. Which is a lyrically continuation of Frogstrap from the debut record. In a roaring pace Murphy takes us into his cartoonish world of animals spying on us. It’s not only the frogs who are at it but also dogs who smell and hear everything we talk about. It never becomes clear why frogs and dogs are involved in these activities but during an interview Murphy said that groups of animals are working on some elaborate plan against us. We probably hear more about it on a third release. Anyway, the album carries on with the Dresden Dolls cabaret-like I Feel Alive which to him is an ironic song about feeling down in the dumps. Murphy sings about being stuck in the rut of his daily life, doing drugs to feel alive but after the rush just eating spaghetti, watching TV and rubbing one out before going to bed.

On Girls & Boys we’re suddenly find ourselves on the dance floor again. This Soulwax-like disco maelstrom has nothing to do with rock or punk music if you ask us. Still, it’s a fun enough listen. Especially when Murphy starts blabbering you just know that the band is shitting around without a clear goal. Nevertheless we had this track on repeat for a while so for a bunch of punk rockers they do hit the right note… somewhere. With two quick-witted tracks Welfare Jazz closes off. One is a ballad about moving into the country and leaving the restless life of partying behind while the other is a cover of John Prine’sIn Spite of Ourselves’. On the latter Australian pub rock singer Amy Taylor helps to create a heartfelt tribute to the recently deceased Prine’ although the over the top Southern accents could also suggest something that’s more, let’s say, insulting.

Apart from a few jazzy skits here and there Welfare Jazz has nothing to do with jazz. Unlike their debut it also has no coherent punk rock heart. Welfare Jazz simply is what it is by shifting from one corner to the other of the musical spectrum. It’s accessible and prankish so what more could we ask for in these dark times of lockdowns and curfews? Viagra Boys could well be the best band for remote workers to dance to during those mandatory screen breaks. You never wear shoes anymore so what are you waiting for? Look this one up, close those curtains and let yourself go. Or even better, leave them open!

Label: YEAR0001, 2021

Buy it here: https://yr1.se/welfarejazz.com

Tracklist:

  1. Ain’t Nice (3:32)
  2. Cold Play (0:31)
  3. Toad (3:35)
  4. This Old Dog (0:37)
  5. Into the Sun (3:58)
  6. Creatures (3:32)
  7. 6 Shooter (4:50)
  8. Best in Show II (0:46)
  9. Secret Canine Agent (1:45)
  10. I Feel Alive (4:29)
  11. Girls & Boys (4:39)
  12. To the Country (2:57)
  13. In Spite of Ourselves (5:03)

Review by Wander Meulemans // 310121

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