Young Guv – GUV I and GUV II
Fucked Up's Ben Cook explores a different musical direction with his solo project Young Guv, as demonstrated on his two-part project Guv I and Guv II
The power pop and disco-inflected grooves of GUV I and GUV II are something of a left turn for Young Guv’s Ben Cook, best known as the guitarist for the Toronto-based hardcore group Fucked Up. Cook is also known for running the label Bad Actors, which has released albums for acts such as the great no-wavers Ice Cream, and has a strong pedigree in the Toronto scene.
After spending nearly two decades playing in bands in the “Big Hog”, Cook wrote and recorded the excellent GUV I during a summer sublet in New York City. I, a more traditional rock record than II, is a near-perfect marriage of Cook’s nasal croon, fondness for major chords, and angst-ridden lyrics. These features are all present in the album's opening track, Patterns Prevail, which begins with Cook singing 'Trust me / You don’t want to touch me'.
Cook uses what he’s learned from punk to make something softer, and Young Guv’s songs are all the better for it. I and II are both lean, economical, sweet and seemingly genuine. Both have a similar emotional tone but demonstrate some stylistic differences. The songs on II are a little slower, groovier and less manic. The R'n'B-influenced Caught Lookin' feels especially different to what we've heard from Cook previously.
Cook is clearly trying to prevent his songwriting from becoming repetitive, and even with the variation in production and inclusion of pre-programmed beats there’s still a great deal of consistency. Sticky harmonies and the running theme of longing for something more are just a few elements that make both GUV I and GUV II very fun, intriguing listens.
Listen to: Patterns Prevail, Roll With Me, Luv Always