'Cave World' Adds Cohesion to Viagra Boys' Chaos

BY Mark TremblayPublished Jul 7, 2022

On their first two records, Viagra Boys earned a reputation as one of the most eccentric bands in modern post-punk with their exciting takes on the buzzy genre, but maybe the Stockholm unit were too exciting: both 2018's Street Worms and 2021's Welfare Jazz lacked connective tissue, there was nothing joining its disparate parts. Transitional interludes such as "Best in Show" on Street Worms came off as pointless filler that neither sounded like the rest of the record nor linked its neighbours "Sports" and "Just Like You," arguably the album's biggest songs. While these may seem like minute details, these moments are crucial in distinguishing a cohesive album from a mere collection of songs.

On third album Cave World, a trio of instrumental interludes fulfill their purpose of tying the record together, allowing the band to branch out even further while maintaining flow. Composed by keyboardist Elias Jungqvist, the minute-long instrumentals are a mash up of audio samples and a tonal variety of keyboards, and do a great job of segueing between the chaotic mix of genres on the album. Cave World finds Viagra Boys elevating the great songwriting of Street Worms and Welfare Jazz by also thinking about the album format as a whole.

And yet, Cave World also ventures into lots of new territory for the band. Gone is the sole reliance on driving bass to push songs forward. Whether the rave-inducing anthems of "Ain't No Thief" and "ADD," the sleazy '80s pop vibes of "The Cognitive Trade-off Hypothesis" or the Beach Boys-nodding "Big Boy," Viagra Boys have a record that jumps all over the place without seeming overwhelming or disjointed. It's all united by Jungqvist, who's crucial in creating this sense of continuity while preserving the band's adventurous spirit, most evident on his keyboard work on interlude "Human Error," which chaotically builds into the album closer "Return to Monke." 

One can't discuss what makes Viagra Boys' music special without mentioning vocalist Sebastian Murphy. His lyrics often take his dishevelled anti-heroes through dark, satirical and humorous tales of drug-fueled debauchery; Cave World follows in a similar vein with a few twists, tackling current events with "Return to Monke" and "Troglodyte" and self-deprecation on "Punk Rock Loser" and "ADD." Murphy has a way of creating narrative lyrics that are unpretentious yet interesting enough to make the songs feel fresh and unique, as best evidenced on closer "Return to Monke," which looks at modern human behaviour through the lens of devolving into a primitive state. The chorus chants of "Leave society, be a monkey" is both hilarious and chilling. 

For a band that, on the surface, don't seem to take themselves or their music overly seriously, Cave World is thoroughly conceived and smartly realized. It balances high-energy ragers with mellower, introspective numbers while the interludes keep things progressing smoothly, adding some cohesion to Viagra Boys' signature chaos.

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