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February 2021
Album review

Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz

Viagra Boys get lost in the back alleys of the same ragged and bass-ridden universe.
Label: YEAR0001
Released: 8th January 2021
Rating: ★★★★
Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz
Published: 12:37 pm, January 14, 2021Words: Aleksandra Brzezicka.

On their debut album, Viagra Boys have brought to life creatures fed on capitalistic scraps and post-punk sounds. Now, they get lost in the back alleys of the same ragged and bass-ridden universe, looking for meaning and instead, finding the sound of 'Welfare Jazz'.

'Welfare Jazz' is an assembly of tracks intertwined with satirical spoken word and wild jazz improv. Their usual torpedo-like stream of consciousness is fuelled less on anger, more on a realisation that both they and the society might be beyond repair.

Standout opener 'Ain't Nice' stresses that if the world is crashing upon you, there's no need for pleasantries. All we deserve is frenzy and high-pitched jazz beats piercing through the surface mayhem, and a 'don't care' attitude ('got a collection of vintage calculators if you don't like, babe I'll see you later'). The macho doesn't stop there but goes on to wreak havoc in 'Toad' to the hardcore jazzy mess and sing a drowsy song of superficial self-realisation, 'Into The Sun'. 

Though the whole album's aiming high, there are two points where it truly peaks. First is a synth-tale of post-humans with no hope and nothing to aspire for ('we just float around close to the bottom'). Second, 'I Feel Alive', a deep-dive in the absurdity of being alive and the routine that comes with it. It's Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack-worthy - if the musical was set in the gutter. Ironically the album ends with John Prine's twangy cover (a duet with Amy Taylor) of country love song, 'In Spite Of Ourselves'. 

On 'Welfare Jazz' the usually hard-hitting Viagra Boys undergo an identity crisis, severe enough to plot a Thoreau-style escape into the woods.

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