When he isn’t being all hardcore, Ben Cook (Fucked Up/No Warning) writes pop hits for Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift. With his Young Guv project, he (sort of) reconciles these two sides of his musical personality, offering exuberant tunes which are nevertheless a little ragged at the edges, evoking Shoes, Big Star and occasionally the anthemic melodicism of the above popettes.
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Who’d have thought that the Fucked Up guy writes for Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson et al? In a day and age where many major UK pop hits are written by the guy from Athlete it doesn’t come as a massive surprise.
This album sounds like demos that he’s made hoping get picked up and scrubbed by the big cheeses. It’s catchy radio pop but ragged around the edges - he doesn’t want to spend too much time on them when a big shot producer could do all the work for him. What it does show though is that production levels are sometimes the only thing that differentiates chart pop from underground pop - you could even imagine many a Robert Pollard song could transfer easily to the big stage - if only he’d use normal words.
Despite its insane catchiness, the main problem with this record is that all too often it falls between two stools - it has one eye on the charts and one eye on ‘70’s power pop and I get the feeling it kind of sounds like the Shoes by mistake. There’s no doubt Ben Hodges is a talented writer ‘Ripe 4 Luv’ has a lovely LA soft top down chorus one part Kate Perry, one part Lindsay Buckingham, ‘Crawling Back to You’ is classic Posies-like power pop and sounds like some kind of classic from yesteryear and ‘Livin’ the Dream' jangles beautifully. Good quality songwriting throughout but despite the fuzzy production, may just be a bit mainstream for some tastes.
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