I know we’re a few weeks into 2021 now, but I’m still dragging a lot of the sausage rolls and emotion of last year. I’m in need of something that could burst my bubble of funk and get me excited for another twelve months of new music. Enter Viagra Boys. Their new album Welfare Jazz is a big, pointy musical needle heading right for me, and I welcome it with arms wide open.

Their brand of off-kilter, absurdist music really struck a chord on their debut album, Street Worms. It brought a ravaged display of glam rock pulled through the filter of strange, delivering everything from bangers to the kitchen sink. Warts an’ all. Fortunately, the band continue to bring the weird on Welfare Jazz, scripting a love story that stutters and stumbles its way through to a happy ending…I think.

‘Ain’t Nice’ kicks off the record with scatty set of guitars and new-wave synthesisers that immediately shorten the breath with its pace. The lyricism details how off-putting the character of the story is, looking for places to stay to “dump my shit” on top of repeated statements of simply not being nice. What IS nice is the groove Viagra Boys bring to the ears, revealing the protagonist’s deepest rhythms that eventually blossom into a real stand-up guy. It certainly tries its hardest to take a few detours before succumbing to the labour of love. There are numerous skits thrown in throughout for the hell of it, acting as distractions from the real gems on this record. Although I will admit, ‘Secret Canine Agent’ is superb.

‘Creatures’ is a glorious tune that smooths the cracks with its synthesisers, bringing a nostalgia beat that sounds right at home in the hips. What I love most is how it embraces the strange, having the band declare themselves outright as the creatures in question. ‘Girls & Boys’ is another highlight destined for the dancefloor. Flitting hi-hats scrape against gritty basslines and frantic horns to create of the best instrumentals to the ears. The vocal hook is ridiculous in its simplicity, but its steeliness works so well against the combustible elements that surrounds it. Especially the blub-blub-blub of the Shrimp lines. It’s an early contender for single of the year and doesn’t hide any of its eccentricities away.

Welfare Jazz is an excellent record from Viagra Boys. It builds upon the filthy framework of Street Worms and runs in multiple directions with it. I wasn’t expecting the follow up to end on ‘To the Country’ and a cover of John Prine’s ‘In Spite of Ourselves’, but am glad it has. It’s a record that boldly says “This is who I am!”, falls in love and runs off into the sunset without a single bath in sight. It is bizarre and filthy throughout but ends on a high that’s actually rather wholesome. I love it.  

Leave a Reply