POP is such a divisive term these days. To many, it’s signals throwaway fluff you would hear on the radio to others it’s a signal of immaculate songwriting prowess and the ability to turn whatever you are trying to do into a hook filled affair. Ben Cook has been crafting interesting music for years now, as a member of Fucked Up, No Warning and his infinitely satisfying solo project Young Guv. On his upcoming third Young Guv album, GUV 1, the New York via Toronto based songwriter has made a pretty perfect pop record. Doused in the influence of bands that have come before, think Big Star, The Posies and Matthew Sweet, GUV 1 is a such a rewarding listen that even as the last chords of the album fade away you’ll already be cueing it up again for a repeat.
Kicking off with “Patterns Prevail” with it’s huge shimmering guitars and pitch perfect vocal harmonies that come off like the missing Teenage Fanclub song you’ve been searching for without knowing that it is the thing what was missing from your life. By the time the guitar-monies kick in during the later half of the track the smile on your face will be firmly planted. “Roll With Me” doesn’t change it up to much. The perfect hooky vocal melodies, joined by Cook’s longtime collaborator Aurora Shields, continue and now buoyed by an acoustic guitar and a wash-y solo break. “Every Flower I See” starts off with the almost same drum beat as Oasis’s “Live Forever”, in fact the song’s swagger is very reminiscent of a lot of that bands output but, thankfully, without that band’s smarminess. Album highlight “Didn’t Even Cry” takes it’s cues from Big Star with it’s irresistible vulnerability. The tracks on the album, while remaining firmly planted in the same ball park, never feel same-y or even as a pastiche with parts lifted from songs of the past. These are unique songs in their own regard and they are all so refreshing. By the time the album wraps up with “A Boring Story” and it’s almost Manchester-esque baggy beat, Cook has taken you on a journey of some the better songwriting that has come out in sometime and which also holds up effectively to what has come before.
GUV 1 showcases what a talent Ben Cook is and gives you a record that should keep your head bopping and feet moving throughout this summer and many more summers to come. Hopefully, because songs on display here are this good, the term POP shouldn’t be resigned as something that is a throwaway anymore but something held in esteem as one of the tenants of highly regarded modern songwriting.
review by Adam Fink
GUV 1 is out today via Run For Cover Records