Album Review | Viagra Boys Are Subversive on Welfare Jazz

What’s sure to be one of the strangest records of the year comes from Stockholm as the joyfully subversive Viagra Boys return on Welfare Jazz with a hedonistic hybrid of lo-fi, punk, jazz, country and a whole host of other genres which the band gleefully mangle and exploit in giddy fashion.

This thirteen-track follow up is every bit as potent a musical mix as 2018 debut Street Worms, and the band slickly execute a dizzying mashup of sounds with frenzied abandon (particular aplomb must be afforded to Henrik Höckert’s nasty, perversely groovy bass), but it’s the deranged delivery of frontman Sebastian Murphy that steals the show, as the vocalist spits and swaggers his way through a variety act that’s frequently as downright hilarious as it is disturbed.

The band have been accused of trolling by some detractors, an all-too-easy and cynical conclusion that doesn’t do justice to the Swedes unbridled energy and inventive approach. Consider how enthusiastically the six piece pastiche their idols with their absurdist blues (‘Toad’) and country-folk (‘In Spite of Ourselves’) interpretations—these are lovingly satirical send ups delivered with a wink and a smirk, but don’t mistake the originality and passion of Welfare Jazz‘s acidic smorgasbord for a second.

At the essence of it all is the corporeal thrill of Viagra Boys’ highly infectious energy. Welfare Jazz flaunts the kind of organic, spontaneous chemistry that can’t be faked—this is bottled lightning, the work of a uniquely qualified collective making music on their own terms. A chaotic, lawless, and entirely captivating ride, Welfare Jazz is a refreshingly weird way to kick off the year in music.