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Viagra Boys - Cave World (Album Review)

Monday, 11 July 2022 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Andre Jofre

It can be hard to make yourself heard as a punk band these days. Three thrashed chords and snarled politicking long ago ceased to cut it, and wave upon wave of post-punk acts have hogged the spotlight, often obscuring the real punks in the process.

But it would be hard to classify Viagra Boys as anything other than a punk band. Finding inspiration in the darkest corners,they are once again re-energising the genre on their third record ‘Cave World’ with something that is frighteningly theirs.

Chaos clings to the group, and on ‘Cave World’ that is channelled into an uncomfortably familiar reckoning with the dystopia we are hurtling towards.

This is a final, outraged stand against a world that has gone too far too fast, where we do not recognize the terrors on our TV screens. 

In singer Sebastian Murphy, Viagra Boys have a voice that is difficult to tune out. Sounding as much like an unhinged Tom Waits as he does Idles’ Joe Talbot, Murphy pokes and prods at the ridiculousness of our polarised society on the paranoid, night-sweats-inducing Creepy Crawlers. There is at times a frantic panic in his voice, a panic that immediately lands his worries on your shoulders as a problem shared and halved.

The rest of the band do plenty of heavy lifting when it comes carrying the record’s dread-fuelled hysteria, though. Whether it’s on the electro-sleaze of The Cognitive Trade-Off Hypothesis or the nightmare blues of Big Boy, Viagra Boys’ bastardisation of tradition and use of distinctly un-punk elements—see the honks and squeals of brass throughout—is what makes them so immediate. On Ain’t So Easy they even manage to channel Beastie Boys and Daughters in the same song. 

There is very little respite to be found on ‘Cave World’. The band set the dial and, bar a couple of deviations, the onslaught begins. But as the record draws to a close and Murphy contemplates withdrawing from society only to find the ills of the world would only follow him (“Everyone’s killing each other with sticks and bones / and old pieces of mud”), it becomes clear they mean to make you squirm in your seat. This is a source of discomfort to make you face uncomfortable realities—what's more punk than that?

Viagra Boys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri January 20 2023 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Sat January 21 2023 - GLASGOW Barrowland Ballroom
Mon January 23 2023 - DUBLIN 3Olympia Theatre
Tue January 24 2023 - CARDIFF Great Hall
Wed January 25 2023 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

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