It’s amazing anyone has the energy to even greet another year, let alone greet it with the oomph that these Stockholm post-punk merchants have. First week of January and here’s the noisy blast of Welfare Jazz.¬†Viagra Boys are up and at ’em.

Their brand of James Murphy-meets-Idles electro-psychobilly pushes a lot of the right buttons. The appeal is straightforward and immediate; over cocksure riffs and rhythms, a shouty man with tats spits sardonic lyrics: “You ain’t that nice, but you got a nice face / I could fit all my shit at your place” (Ain’t Nice), “I’m just gonna lay down and watch TV / I might rub one out and then I fall asleep” (I Feel Alive). But not a toxic, shouty man with tats. This isn’t the 1980s. A knowing, he-doth-protest-too-much, right-on one, because it’s 2021 and Joe Talbot happened.

Sometimes it’s uninspired – the full-on aural assault of 6 Shooter is a bit poor man’s XTRMNTR; sometimes it meanders, prizing attitude over musicality (Girls & Boys); sometimes it’s changed up by singer Sebastian Murphy dropping into drunken Elvis/Johnny Cash mode (on Toad and In Spite Of Ourselves, the punk-country John Prine cover, done with Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers). On occasions, you sense the ghost of The Hives lurking in the corner – another punky Swedish band who prospered briefly when their style fit the times. They come across better with an accompanying video, or, presumably, if it’s ever allowed to happen, live.

The more Welfare Jazz escapes its mould, the better. The strained, subdued frustration of Into The Sun – “Might stop drinking and gambling to earn back your love” – and fluttering flute and loping march of I Feel Alive¬†exhibit the kind of stylistic nuances the Fat White Family now employ so well. To The Country is Murphy’s best co-option of country schtick, superficially an ode to the simple life, done with a touch of Bonnie Prince Billy’s lonesome wryness. The jazz sax breaks (like Cold Play) are also welcome departures from the template.

Welfare Jazz is primed for impact, dropped in a quiet January so we know about it. For sure, its energy will blow away those post-Christmas, lockdown cobwebs, although one suspects that as the year wears on, it’s charms may prove fleeting.