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  • Ryan ANTIART

ALBUM REVIEW: Viagra Boys, Welfare Jazz

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Grade: C+

REST IN PEACE TO VIAGRA BOYS GUITARIST BENJAMIN VALLE










According to Wikipedia, "Viagra is a medication created by Pfizer, patented in 1996 and released to market in 1998 that was created for the purpose of treating hypertension but is commonly used for erectile dysfunction. It works by relaxing smooth muscles in the penis, increasing vasodilation/blood flow to the spongy tissue, causing an erection that lasts between 1-2 hours." The product has become popular, especially with older men aged 50 and above — wait hold on. Who the hell are “Viagra Boys”? I thought I was doing a review for boner pills! Hold on let me give this a listen…


Ok, sorry. So Viagra Boys are a Swedish rock band signed to the same label as Bladee and Yung Lean. Contrary to what one may think, their style is opposite of those two. It’s bold and audacious, with vocal work that seeks to be heard rather than buried in the background. Like their namesake, the band’s sound feels like a dose of horny machismo right to the gut. Their breakout single “Sports” was a lot of fun as some of you may remember, “baseball, wiener dogs”, and all that. Their sophomore album is just about as wild as their debut, but rather than stick just to scuzz punk they try to switch it up a bit. The result is a jack-of-all-trades rock album that can be either great or boring depending on the track.


The skits in general are pleasant and do a good job at transitioning the album. The snippet of jazz that appears on “Cold Play” helps the album keep that Welfare Jazz title relevant, but the next skit “This Old Dog” is both annoying and pointless. The track right after is the album’s worst by far, “Into the Sun” is this bassy, raspy blues (?) track that stops the album’s momentum dead in its tracks. The following track “Creatures” finds the band switching up their provocateur punk sound to copy off of Future Islands. It’s a concept track I guess, about the band crawling around the bottom of the ocean looking for scrap metal. If that sounds stupid as a concept, just listen to the song. Lastly, the penultimate track “To The Country” has a similar problem to “Into the Sun”, it sounds like the soft member that would be helped by Viagra. Too slow, slightly jazzy and in the end it adds up to not much.


As far as let downs, that’s about as far as this album goes, mostly everything else goes over as smooth as a nice glass of Scotch. The opener “Ain’t Nice” updates the band’s patented sound, using it to describe how the lead singer would basically be the worst boyfriend ever. “I start screaming if you look at me funny. I AIN’T NICE!” he belts out over a driving bassline and steady drums. It’s like if Trevor from GTA V started a rock band, the chaotic energy just continues to build and spill over into the next track. “Toad” is a similarly female-repellent song, the boys are all hopped up on Viagra with no one to help them out. “I DON’T NEED NO WOMAN TELLING ME, WHEN TO GO TO BED, AND WHEN TO BRUSH MY TEETH!” The track takes a more jazzy tone, with some horns and pianos playing alongside fuzzy bass and distorted guitars.


This album is so catchy and skilled when it wants to be, and I have to commend the band for that. The freaky dog themed skit and the subsequent dog themed “Secret Canine Agent” are so thrilling and weird. The quick drum fills kick off the track perfectly, and the bass and hi-hats throw the track into the void from there. The lyrics here are just...so stupid, but so funny. “He's a secret canine agent/Looks like he gave me a signal/Oh, when he lifted his paw/That means the beetle has landed/Tell all the rest of the dogs”, it’s like some after-the-fact soundtrack to that ‘00s movie Cats and Dogs where all the pets are spies. “Girls & Boys” keeps the energy up, but goes in more of a stylistic direction similar to that of Parquet Courts or The Rapture. The hi-hat sequences on the track are a dead ringer for “How Deep Is Your Love?” or “House of Jealous Lovers”, and I’m not complaining because I love those records.


“In Spite of Ourselves” ends the record on an interesting note, a duet with a woman that’s just as weird as the lead singer. “I caught him once and he was sniffing my undies/He ain’t too smart but he gets things done/He drinks his beer like it’s oxygen/He’s my baby and I’m his honey” guest singer Amy Taylor sings with a high-pitched Australian drawl. It’s definitely different than any other track here, and just like this album it’s hard to make heads or tails of. While Welfare Jazz definitely shows why bands like Viagra Boys are needed to revitalize rock music, it also shows the band running out of ideas. How many more in-your-face fuzz punk jams can they make before the style gets stale? How much more can they experiment with an already very simple sound? I just don’t know if it’s effects will last longer than 4 hours.

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