Young Guv

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GUV III Review

by Tim Sendra

On GUV I and GUV II, Young Guv made a case for themselves as the great power pop band of the 2020s, maybe the best since the initial wave of power pop faded. Or at least as good as any of the revivalists who sprung up in the '90s. No matter where one slots them in the rankings or places them in the power pop continuum, there is no denying that the group -- or more specifically their leader Ben Cook -- know how to whip together jangling guitars, big vocal harmony, and sugar-smacked melodies into something so sweet and sticky one might find the urge to brush their teeth afterward irresistible. GUV III is more of the same and then some. Where I and II made space for the occasional soft rock and chillwave diversion, this record is ten nonstop blasts (and one ballad at the end) of chiming 12-string guitars, gently struck tambourines, power chords, stacks of vocal harmonies, melancholy moods, earnest lead vocals, and the occasional ripping guitar solo. It's pure power pop with a side serving of jangle pop that's nostalgic but never retro. Cook isn't delving into pastiche or trying on a style for fun; he's ingested it so fully that this might as well be a record from 1977 on Beserkley or 1994 on Big Deal. Like that but better, because the early power pop bands often suffered from weak production -- not an issue here -- and the revivalists of the '90s usually fell flat when it came to the songwriting part. That's not a problem here either as Cook has no trouble knocking out memorable tunes. Everything here gloms directly onto the pleasure center of the brain on first spin; some tunes are so rich sounding it's hard to believe they aren't lost gems rescued from some obscure compilation. A few, like the almost painfully pretty "Only Wanna See U Tonight" or the pointedly wistful "Couldn't Leave U If I Tried" sound like they were lifted from a sadly yet-to-be-made box set-size collection of the genre's best examples. It's a neat trick Cook pulls off, made magical by the dedication he shows to the form. When he does make a side trip, as on "She Don't Cry for Anyone," it's not only a fine example of paisley underground jangle psych by way of the Byrds -- if one closes their eyes, it could be a lost Three O'Clock classic. If GUV I and II were genius examples of genre re-creation, III is where Young Guv make their claim to be one of the all-time greats.

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