On Street Worms, tales of drugs and mayhem bounced off oddball comedic episodes about dogs, online shopping and “surfing with your mom”. Here on their second record, Welfare Jazz, the lyrical concerns remain the same, but a little of the bite and venom of the debut is replaced with a warmer, more accessible sound (which is no bad thing). That said, the overall impact of their glorious cacophony on Welfare Jazz is undiminished, and most importantly, it’s just as funny as the debut.

From the dirty roar of opener “Ain’t Nice”, through the dapper synth-pop (!) of “Creatures”, to the John Prine tribute of country ballad closer (“In Spite of Ourselves”, which features Amyl & the Sniffers’ vocalist Amy Taylor), Viagra Boys show that a change is as good as a rest. Murphy, along with bandmates Henrik Höckert (bass), Tor Sjödén (drums), Oskar Carls (saxophone), Benjamin Vallé (guitar) and Martin Ehrencrona (synth), could quite easily have played it safe and released another platter of gritty punk, but thankfully, they’ve pushed the envelope and little further than last time, and made another essential album in the process.

Of course some of you will have been holding on to see if there’s anything on here that compares (sonically, at least) to the bass-led thunder of the first record, and you’ll find that on “Secret Canine Agent”. Hell, Murphy’s talking about dogs again, and there’s even a casual reference to that most Viagra Boys of oddities – the ‘frogstrap’. There’s also “Toad”, which shows how adept the band are at writing a simple punk tune. When Murphy sings about being on the outskirts of society for his entire life, you believe him. “Best in Show II” picks up the story Murphy laid out on the first album, with an intergalactic canine competition.

Even though the record closes on a country tune, the boys throw in one more for good measure – “To the Country”. Most surprising of all is that it’s fairly straight-laced, and pretty conservative in its delivery of bucolic optimism. The sparse, muscular industrial sounds of “Into the Sun” and the gloriously bleak indie rock of “6 Shooter” further highlight just how dextrous and talented the band really are.

Some cynics will decry the smoothing of Viagra Boys’ sonic edges, and the relative lack of raw power that Welfare Jazz exhibits, but there’s something to be said for a band trying to further their sound through experimentation. Where some bands have tried and failed to develop their overall appeal by simply dumbing themselves down, Viagra Boys have found success through the sheer determination of the songs. These are powerful, thoughtful songs that stand up to hours of repeated listening, and always raise a smile in the process.