Ben Cook is a restless musician, not content to just be doing one thing when he could be doing three. While serving as guitarist in Fucked Up, he was in a string of really good bands/projects like Roomates, Marvelous Darlings, and Yacht Club, where the main thread running through each has been Cook's King Midas-like touch when it comes to crafting sticky sweet pop music. With Young Guv, Cook may be doing his best work yet. Ripe 4 Luv, his first record under the name, features Cook trying out a bunch of different styles, from the lo-fi Dwight Twilley-style power pop of "Crushing Sensation" and the slinky title track (which conjures up memories of Prince at his poppiest) to the rambunctiously glammy rock & roll of "Dear Drew" and the happily meandering chillwave soul of "Aquarian," sounding great at each stop along the way. The album really takes off when Cook travels back to the '90s and delves deeply into some Matthew Sweet-sounding power pop, mixing huge guitars with hooks big enough to topple skyscrapers and getting the slick and rich feel of the era perfect down to the last cymbal hit. Try getting the vocal melody of "Crawling Back to You" out of your head. It's not easy. The wonderfully constructed "Kelly, I'm Not a Creep" would be perfect on the soundtrack of an Empire Records remake, and "Living the Dream" is the best song the Rembrandts never wrote. The album only stumbles a tiny little bit on the final track, "Wrong Crowd," which is a little bit outside the range the rest of the songs establish, unless you're a big fan of really long songs that sound like French lounge pop with endless sax solos. Ben Cook is no doubt a very talented guy and he puts his talents to very good use on Ripe 4 Luv, crafting the kind of pop music that should appeal to anyone who likes singing along, feeling things, and a little bit of weirdness mixed into their fizzy cocktails.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra