Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Viagra Boys embark on their most adventurous outing to date with excellent results on Cave World

"Cave World"

Release date: 08 July 2022
9/10
Cover V gra Boys Cave World
07 July 2022, 20:07 Written by Ross Horton
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Swedish reprobates Viagra Boys have done everything right.

They've organically grown a rabid fanbase off the back of two excellent studio albums and a riotous live reputation, and possess – in the mercurial presence of genuine punk lifer Sebastian Murphy – a frontman who can hold his own against the inventor of the genre, Iggy Pop (who is a fan of the band).

Their sound – which has been compared to about sixty other acts but reminds this writer most of Devo and Morphine – is a heady brew of trad punk, post punk, country and new wave and their look is a combination of unlicensed doorman menace and tracksuit couch slacker. So far, so perfect.

Cave World, their third, is by some measure their most adventurous. Where the first (2018's Street Worms) was a note-perfect, hermetically-sealed recreation of old thrills, and the second (2021's Welfare Jazz) was an expansive and expanded take on the same source material (the country touches were nice and the homage to Iggy Pop on "I Feel Alive" was charming), this one draws from a new well.

The best track on the album, "Punk Rock Loser" – which is now the soundtrack to one of the greatest music videos ever made – sums up the chances the band are taking here. The lyrics, in tandem with Murphy's droll vocal delivery, evoke (perhaps unsurprisingly) Beck, and the music saunters along with a sinister low-slung, hare-trigger attitude.

Other highlights include "Troglodyte", which sounds like a bizarro, funhouse mirror reflection of first album standout "Slow Learner", and "Ain't No Thief", which sounds like Berghain techno if it were made by malfunctioning toasters. The toasters – the usual lineup of Henrik Höckert on bass guitar, Tor Sjödén on drums, Oscar Carls on saxophone and Elias Jungqvist on keyboards – are all fantastic throughout. While it’s unclear who plays guitar on each song, especially since the sad and untimely death of original guitarist Benjamin Valle last year, they’re also one of the key facets of the sound (most likely, it’s producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt). In the live arena, the band have recently been joined by Swedish goth rocker Henrik Palm, and he’s gone down a storm.

"Baby Criminal" picks up where Street Worms' "Shrimp Shack" ends, and "The Cognitive Trade-Off Hypothesis" answers the eternal question: What would Viagra Boys sound like if they grew up to be Prince? As it turns out, the answer is Gorillaz.

"Big Boy" skewers Beach Boys backing vocals, a throat-shredding main vocal, and barbecues them over a mid-2000s alt rock fire until you end with something that genuinely sounds like Eels. Eels! Imagine Viagra Boys and Eels ever featuring in the same paragraph. The special surprise guest of Sleaford Mods' Jason Williamson threatens, on paper, to ruin the vibe – but he's a natural fit.

The industrial-flavoured "Creepy Crawlers" and the new wave-inflected "ADD" are also tonnes of fun. The band are excellent throughout, adjusting to Murphy’s performances and giving him room to fully explore his most eccentric tendencies.

If you're even slightly intrigued by what you've just read then there's a very good chance that this could end up being your favourite Viagra Boys album. Hell, it could end up being your favourite album of the year, and that's not bad going for a bunch of Stockholm delinquents. Enjoy often, and loud. And recommend it to your dad or your brother or you pet budgie. You know, whoever it is in your life that constantly reminds you that rock peaked in 1996 with Odelay. They’ll love it. You will too.

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