Young Guv, aka Ben Cook, has been keeping himself busy. Besides his full-time gig with the mammoth hardcore band Fucked Up, he’s released 11 singles and 2 previous EPs as Young Guv. Along comes EP#2 in the form of Young Guv & The Scuzz’s A Love Too Strong. This time along, he’s entered a proper studio and gathered a backing band with the intent to release a pop record. And pop, indeed, it is.
A Love Too Strong is a quick-play 12”, just six songs long. The songs range from straight pop to countrified and sugar-sweet, but the common thread remains their light-natured and positive vibe. Opener “Heal Over Time” bears a likeness to Guided by Voices or the poppier elements of The Replacements’ songbook, while “Wounds of Love” and “Not My Flaws” display elements of ‘60s psych-pop and maybe a bit of shoegaze fuzz within the larger pop sounds. The only time I thought of Fucked Up on the record (and I likely wouldn’t have were it not for the association) comes in the intro to “To Lose,” with a build-up crescendo reminiscent of the said band’s power dynamic, although with Young Guv, it’s written in a different key and it culminates with a flash of keyboard and vocal harmonies instead of a monster percussive explosion and barked lyrics.
Cook’s vocals are crisp and well-produced, harmonizing at key moments and always following the lead melody. While he doesn’t display a wide range, he mixes up his voice enough to follow the different structures and he always hits his points, matching the countrified “Not In It for the Good Time,” which somewhat reminds of Ninja Gun, as well as in songs like “Not My Flaws” and the closing “I Am the Rogue”—which are both traditional, clean pop songs. “I Am the Rogue” even draws in backing horns and handclaps before the perfect harmonies drop off and the records ends.
There is a steady cohesion to the record and it’s easy to wish for a full-length when it ends so abruptly, though it’s hard to figure where Cook would find the time to record an additional six songs. Recommended for fans of crisp, concise and traditional pop structures and harmonies, though it’s a tad too clean for my tastes.
7.0 / 10
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