Cavetown by Viagra Boys album review by Leslie Ken Chu. The Swedish band's anticipated new album drops on July 8 via YEAR0001

YEAR0001

8.8

Viagra Boys

Cave World

Viagra Boys continue to pump out the frantic, chemical-infused punk rock that’s won them a devoted following while making novel stylistic choices on their third LP, Cave World. Upon first listen, the Stockholm outfit sound like they’re accusing the human species of regressing to a less evolved state, but their criticism is more scathing: humans and the apes they look down their noses at are pretty well the same; irrefutably, a survey of civilized history—all the wars, all the senseless killing—confirms as much.

Most of the beloved Viagra Boys tropes return on Cave World. “Baby Criminal” is sordid storytelling coloured by substance dependence, obsession with batteries and small animals, and falls from moral purity. Like the best Viagra Boys songs, “Baby Criminal”’s pulsing rhythm races over industrial glitches and squealing saxophone like an amphetamine-injected heartbeat. Similarly, loaded with drum fills, “Ain’t No Thief” is the most industrial the band have sounded since their debut LP, Street Worms.

Cave World’s predecessor, Welfare Jazz, found the band breaking their mold by delving into twangy, clopping rock (by way of a cover of John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves”) and neon synth pop. Viagra Boys don’t push their boundaries as far on Cave World, but it still boasts successful experiments. The opaque “The Cognitive Trade-Off Hypothesis” is as far as they go outside their comfort zone, with vaporous sax, drums that crunch like tightly packed snow, low, rumbling bass notes, and frontman Sebastian Murphy singing the highest notes he’s ever hit on a Viagra Boys record. Busted blues rock standout “Big Boy” calls to mind Jon Spencer Blues Explosion with its mumbled, radio-filtered vocals and clear appreciation of hip hop rhythm. “ADD” is more keyboard excellence, an infectiously wobbly groover dotted with synth notes and powered by a steadily clunking drumbeat.

Welfare Jazz was a sobering moment of clarity, if not for Viagra Boys’ menagerie of despairing derelicts, then for Murphy himself, as he seemed to break the fourth wall. He earnestly renounced his errant, debaucherous, and wholesale degenerate ways, promising his love he’d cleaned up his act and was ready to settle down together in the countryside. But Cave World’s “Punk Rock Loser” reverses this progress. No, he’s not your average loser punk; he’s Cool Hand Luke, a badass savage—at least in his own mind. But he sounds like he’s in denial, trying to convince himself rather than someone else of his cred: “I look in the mirror, said, ‘Man, you’re the best,’” he tells himself over fizzy percussion, warbling bass and electronics, and loose guitar chords.

Cave World is Viagra Boys’ best album yet. Welfare Jazz felt like a conscious attempt to push their own boundaries, and thus thus, its experiments stuck out like sore thumbs. On Cave World, though, the band succeeds in balancing and blending the new with the old. Cave World is also a more cohesive whole whereas its predecessors felt more stitched together; their interludes were like loose tendons, but the latter’s are much shorter, taut tissue adjoining the meat that is the other nine tracks.

Pre order Cave World by Viagra Boys HERE