Viagra Boys
Welfare Jazz


3.5
great

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
January 9th, 2021 | 46 replies


Release Date: 01/08/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Post punk, jazzy saxophones and some lines of speed.

Viagra Boys are one head-scratching act to review. Their rather angular approach to music created some excellent tunes so far, but it already feels as if it pigeonholed them. Anyway, let them figure out their future, until then we can explore the second full length, Welfare Jazz. I love how these guys remind you that it’s okay to poke fun at the most serious matters even if you hit rock bottom. Whether talking about political, social or mental issues, they acknowledge them and take the piss too. Charismatic front man, Sebastian Murphy plays his wasted role very convincingly, almost to the point where he eclipses the music. Nevertheless, there is more to the band than it might seem at a first glance. They create some really fun, groovy songs that take the post-punk formula into jazzy territories. Underneath its messy appearance, the debut LP Street Worms was a very tight record. The drum/bass interplay was flawless, leaving a lot of room for the saxophone, guitar and synthesizers to create an often quirky yet rich atmosphere.

Welfare Jazz doesn’t stray much from its predecessor, but it allows room for a slight sonic expansion. Broadening their horizons, they offer us the stomping, bluesy cut, ‘Into the Sun’ with its raucous vocal lines, followed by the softer, more flamboyant, dive bar piano rocker, ‘I Feel Alive’. It feels slightly off to hear the latter on a Viagra Boys record, however, it’s a decent effort I guess. Meanwhile, the mid-80s Depeche Mode inspired late night confessional, ‘To the Country’ paves the way for the early morning, drunk karaoke album closer, ‘In Spite of Ourselves’. Since Sebastian describes in a brutally honest, self-deprecating style what a drug abusing asshole he was during a previous long-term relationship, this John Prine cover settles things in a delusional yet humorous way. The man recognized he acted like an idiot, so now he can make fun of himself and the respective situation.

I appreciate the attempts to enrich the sonic palette, despite the hit-and-miss nature of the songs mentioned above. Although, as expected, a string of driving rockers form the foundation of the album, keeping the engine running smooth for the most part too. Opening cut ‘Ain’t Nice’ struts with its hip shaking rhythm and Nintendo-like electronic sound scapes. Then, the psychedelia-infused, Elvis rock’n’roll ditty, ‘Toad’ kicks in like a few lines of speed. Murphy chaotically switches between spoken word, croons, snarls and shouting during the entire record like a lunatic. Again the contrasting attitudes makes things interesting, as he occasionally drops some dead serious lyrics amid comical rants. Moving forward, one album highlight is the smooth instrumental, ‘6 Shooter’ where some cool guitar and saxophone leads are backed by steady kraut-like drum patterns and windy synth embellishments. Another is ‘Girls & Boys’, featuring alternating disco beats and smooth bass grooves, complete with dissonant saxophone solos and noisy oscillators. This is probably the closest they got to the infectious ‘Sports’. Ultimately, all the partying and carefree times are interrupted by a harsh comedown. ‘Creatures’ is a more settled, electronic track discussing drug addiction and its crippling effects on you.

Overall, Viagra Boys crafted an album that is the logical next step after the strong debut, Street Worms. While consolidating their strengths, they are trying to figure out other directions to pursue as well. Some experiments don’t add much to the listening experience, but don’t detract either. The story telling is very up front, yet the confidence and attitude never passes into obnoxious, parody of oneself territory. As a result, Welfare Jazz remains a tight effort that hopefully acts as a transition to a richer sonic canvas.



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user ratings (82)
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 9th 2021


5314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Solid album, but the slower tracks are a bit hit and miss.



Stream here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9r3tze0e8s&list=OLAK5uy_ltEHn5xX9KHc3JLnoK8Uzeb1vd6se5v0o

Digging: Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs

Sniff
January 9th 2021


6886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Nope. Not for me. Had me snoozin. Album should've been Sports 11 times.

Digging: Nasvikensmaffian - It's Hamre Time

AxeToFall93
January 9th 2021


262 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Nope. Not for me. Had me snoozin. Album should've been Sports 11 times."



It really shouldn't be.



I think this is really fun, solid sophomore record with some nice ideas for the future.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
January 9th 2021


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah i didn't really care for this overall, some cool moments in here but they're mostly balanced out by pretty obnoxious ones

sweet rev tho, can definitely see a lot of ppl digging this

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - The Helm Of Sorrow

Minushuman24
January 9th 2021


4601 Comments


Man, this album rules so hard

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 9th 2021


5314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd love 11 new Sports tracks, but they have to find something else to switch to. Girls & Boys is really tight.

Sniff
January 9th 2021


6886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Ya opening track and girls and boys are fine

Mort.
January 10th 2021


15676 Comments


'Viagra Boys are one head-scratching acts to review.'

acts?

Digging: Prefab Sprout - Crimson/Red

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 10th 2021


22950 Comments


I watched the video for In Spite of Ourselves with Amy Taylor and was thoroughly confused about this band.

Digging: Typhoon (USA-OR) - Sympathetic Magic

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 10th 2021


31729 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Was not ready for To the Country paha, those lines about chickens made me chuckle. Great tongue in cheek showstopper. The closer is also lovable in a fun dumb crass kinda way. Not so sure about the rest.

Digging: Fushitsusha - Live I

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 10th 2021


44530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

diggin this a fair bit. thanks for reviewing and bringing to my attention insomniac!

Digging: Black Country, New Road - For the first time

greg84
Emeritus
January 10th 2021


7644 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is great. Mad props for reviewing it.

porcupinetheater
January 10th 2021


5140 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Records a nice time. Not too much for standouts, but it cruises on its own wavelength

cor22222
January 10th 2021


349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Go listen to polish band Błoto, imagine if vocals from Viagra Boys inputs into Kwiatostan from Błoto. Pure gold

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 10th 2021


5314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you Mort for pointing out the mistake.



Happy to see some higher ratings as well. The record ain't bad.

parksungjoon
January 10th 2021


25907 Comments


comparative analysis w/ the venga boys pls

Digging: Government - Shitshitshit [japanese death poem]

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 10th 2021


5314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

More beer belly here

Sniff
January 10th 2021


6886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

more face tattoos and drugs too



well maybe not more drugs

Deathconscious
January 10th 2021


25815 Comments


This is interesting lol.

DocSportello
January 10th 2021


1867 Comments


The closing cover is pretty nice. I loved "Sports", and I think I like this



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