Viagra Boys: Welfare Jazz

Street Worms to Welfare Jazz – what a creative journey it has been for Viagra Boys since their first studio album release in 2018! The post-punk band of Swedish musicians remains steady in the sense that they seem to continuously integrate new elements into their music, and never shy away from experimenting with sound and how it’s organized. As a whole, though, this wildly eccentric band is a rollercoaster of creativity and you never know exactly what they’ll dish out.

Their most recent album Welfare Jazz was released on January 8th of this year, and, though the album’s transitions between each track feel somewhat inconsistent, it seems intentional and overall the album is a pretty great work of art. There’s a definite feeling of being inside of a “hole in the wall” jazz club – there are moments of “musical tangency” in between the tracks where it almost has the same sense as when musicians freestyle on stage, and it has a gritty aura to it that makes it feel raw. This can be observed most vividly in the short incidents like the album’s opener “Cold Play.”

The top songs of the album that will undoubtedly please crowds of nearly all tastes would be “Into The Sun,” “I Feel Alive,” and “To The Country.” “Into The Sun” has a thick, “treading through the swamp” quality to it with a bassline that carries you from start to finish. Easily enjoyable, with a lot of subtle depth, again, thanks to the bass. “I Feel Alive” is lustful and slow, and hearing it will convince you of what makes this band so stand-alone. The lyrics smoothly portray the pain and joy that accompanies overcoming addiction. The sound will make it easy to keep it on repeat. “I Feel Alive” will remind you of what it really means to feel alive. Finally, “To The Country” blesses us with a good time sprinkled with increasing anticipation for something, though what remains unknown. This song paints a beautiful picture and pairs that beauty with the unsettling choice of using primarily minor notes throughout its run time. Super neat, somewhat cinematic, sort of weird – definitely one of the album’s best.

If the trippy boat scene from the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” gives you anxiety, you’ll probably feel similarly about “6 Shooter.” Starting off with the bold decision to be an almost entirely instrumental track, at about 2 minutes in you’re then hurdled into the musical equivalent of that trippy Wonka boat scene, which is also the only part of the song that has any words. If you’re a fan of the Huey Lewis And The News song “Heart Of Rock And Roll,” though, you’ll feel nostalgic towards the quickness of the song and its use of brass instruments. It’s a fun song, but an acquired taste, which pretty accurately describes the band themselves, too!

This album will either invigorate you or make you anxious. Regardless, in its entirety, Welfare Jazz is certainly artistic and unpredictable. The slower, heavier songs are possessing, and the faster-paced more “experimental” ones are the seasoning in the dish that will either turn you away or draw you in.

Rating: 7.0/10

Listen on Apple Music