Viagra Boys: Welfare Jazz Review – post-punkers are hard to like | Music

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JViagra Boys’ second album begins where the Swedish post-punk quintet’s debut, 2018 street wormsleft out: a choppy, fuzzy bass line, sputtering electronics, and Sebastian Murphy comically ranting about his shortcomings: “I’m not nice!“The whole point of The Viagra Boys seems to be that they’re not nice: live, they’re pulverizingly intense, and Murphy – heavily tattooed, both lean and pot-bellied – projects an air of dismissive menace. Under the apparent misery of songs like Research chemicalshowever, there was always a purpose: to attack the hypocrisy, to celebrate the underdogs.

Viagra Boys: Welfare Jazz album cover

For such a musically determined band, a second album was always going to present a challenge: how to develop their ferocious attack without turning into a caricature of themselves. In these terms, Welfare Jazz is a partial success. Creatures finds Murphy celebrating low life again, but it’s far more musically flexible than one might expect from Viagra Boys, driven by electronic bass and with keyboards that shimmer rather than choke; it’s almost tight. Into the Sun and I Feel Alive attempt a kind of noxious blues, but where the latter is both melodic and tense, the former is just shapeless and dull. A duet with Amy Taylor of Amyl and the sniffers on John Prine’s In Spite of Ourselves sounds like a good idea on paper; on record, it appears as the kind of Americana parody that was so popular on John Peel’s cowpunk-era show. The rest, for the most part, is as you’d expect (and probably hope), though it’s a mystery why 6 Shooter, a Stoogey thrillride, is an instrument.

The problem here is not intentional; it is execution. But when the Viagra Boys are fully focused, they’re still fantastic and don’t miss them when they can get back on stage.

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