Viagra Boys – ‘Cave World’

By Andy Joice

Post-punk is in a good place, thriving you could say, and no band is as distinctive within the genre as Sweden’s Viagra Boys. Following on from 2021’s critically acclaimed ‘Welfare Jazz’, Sebastian Murphy and the Boys are back with another helping of visceral absurdity in the form of ‘Cave World’. Strap in, we’re about to get weird.

Opening with ‘Baby Criminal’, the instrumentation is immediately jarring; heavy rhythms splattered with discordant saxophone that doesn’t seem to have a melody echo through the opening bars. Telling the story of ‘Little Jimmy’ who’s descent into madness starts with him microwaving batteries and culminating in being arrested whilst wearing a tinfoil suit and trying to build a nuclear bomb, it’s apparent Viagra Boys haven’t lost either their sense of humour or their vivid imagination. It’s the perfect introduction into the band itself and the album as a whole.

Where ‘Welfare Jazz’ had a southern country style, ‘Cave World’ has a much more dystopian vibe. In fact, ‘Cave Hole’ doubles down on this – the 40 second instrumental is one of three instrumental pieces that includes squeaking and squawking, ominous squelching and dripping, and what sounds like some sort of barely developed simian arsehole banging away on a synth.

And speaking of barely developed simian arseholes, ‘Troglodyte’ laughs in the face of the gun loving idiots who glean joy at shouting their opinions on the internet. Lines like “Cause you evolved a bit too late /You ain’t no ape, You’re a troglodyte” reflect their backward thinking views with the snark and wit Murphy has running through his veins. It’s worth noting that Murphy didn’t mean troglodyte (prehistoric cave people), he meant trilobites (prehistoric sea dwellers). It could lessen the songs point, but given their history of deliberate ambiguity and weaponizing confusion, and Murphy dismissing it as funny, it just adds to the narrative.

‘Creepy Crawlers’ follows a similar thread, looking at conspiracy theories in a particularly tongue-in-cheek way. Microchips in vaccines that steal information, lizard people and the adrenochrome blood harvesting conspiracy are all heavily leaned into, all against the backdrop of eerie faded instrumentations and repetitive melodies. It’s an anxiety inducing jaunt that could frankly become an anthem for theorists to attach themselves to.

Viagra Boys don’t just do political satire though. Single ‘Punk Rock Loser’ could’ve come straight off of ‘Welfare Jazz’, with its narcissistic, self-descriptive prose. Rhythm heavy and with less extravagant  seasoning – I love the sax, but sometimes it’s not needed – it’s the perfect single to introduce to new fans. Muttered, almost monotonal vocals from Murphy create a delivery that’s laidback amongst the chaos.

Similarly, ‘Big Boy’ follows familiar traits with the hooks being a subtle bassline and everything else acting as a garnish, adding colour to the plate. Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson makes a guest cameo, confirming that “in a world full of privileged villains”, Murphy is the “real baddie” – it adds a certain vivaciousness to it having another large character from the scene on the track, like Lex Luthor and The Joker joining forces. I’ll let you decide which is which.

‘Return To Monke’ closes the album, continuing to lean heavily into the regression of man. A hook of “leave society/be a monkey” really hammers the point that we are invariably fucked and have destroyed the place – the only way to escape the 5G, vaccines and worrisome neighbours is to return to the jungle and be a monkey. Its references to masturbation, eating bananas and rubbing frogs on your genitals makes for both entertaining and weirdly compelling listening. There’s no jungle outside my window, but if there were, I’d be tempted to start swinging from the trees. Its beat heavy instrumentation is full of distortion, scratches, and their usual scattered flair, creating a soundscape that somehow feels both futuristic and regressive.

All in all, ‘Cave World’ continues Viagra Boys’ streak of creating eccentric yet endlessly listenable albums. While it’s definitely got a more political and societal overview, there’s still that charm that resonates from Murphy. You just have to congratulate a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, and that should extend to the band as a whole, who’s approach of ‘sometimes more is more’ is perfectly balanced. Flair, depth and disorder, it’s another outlandish album that strongly deserves your attention.

ANDY JOICE

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