There are times when an album gets hyped and old cranks like myself instinctively recoil and shrug our shoulders. It's the "Hey you kids, get the hell off my lawn!"-moment of music criticism, even the amateurish version I practice here.
Well, now is NOT one of those times because I'm here to lend my old man voice to the growing chorus of people singing the praises of Ripe 4 Luv by Young Guv, out on Tuesday via the esteemed Slumberland Records.
Young Guv is Ben Cook of indie band Fucked Up. Young Guv is presumably all him. And let me tell you: Ripe 4 Luv is 8 songs of pure pop bliss. Really, I know I get excited about a lot of music on this site, but this is joyously perfect, folks!
You know, if you put Ripe 4 Luv on and then bullshitted me and told me that this was some lost tape of Mitch Easter of Let's Active jamming with Prince in 1985, at the height of his "Raspberry Beret"-era paisley-ness, then I'd probably believe you 'cause that little hint of funky-ness in opener "Crushing Sensation" puts it in a league with both the Purple One's "Take Me With You" and "Writing the Book of Last Pages" by Easter's Let's Active. And then we get "Crawling Back to You" which seems like the ultimate power pop jam -- equal parts classic Tommy Keene and Big Star with a hint of Cheap Trick's aim at the mainstream. Downright FANTASTIC!
A lot of kids will hear something like this and want to go out and grab some guitars and form a band. I hear this and want to jump in my car and cruise the highway with this cranking on the stereo.
On "Aquarian", the kid goes all Hall and Oates on us with a suave little nod in the direction of "Human"-era Human League. Trippy and delightfully lo-fi, this is what soul music would sound like if a young Robert Pollard had tried his hand at it.
Cook ramps up the amps for "Kelly, I'm Not a Creep" and the effect is The Raspberries updated for a new century. Nearly anthemic, the track positively soars amid a bunch of crunchy guitar licks, think 1984 Peter Buck hooks in the service of a stadium rock hit. Smart, punchy, and rifftastic, this one is another gem on Ripe 4 Luv.
"Dear Drew" is The Posies rewriting a Buzzcocks cut, while "Living the Dream" is an heir to both "Friday, I'm in Love" by The Cure and "There She Goes" by The La's and as good, if not better, than both.
From the near Prince-isms of "Crushing Sensation" to the epic Scritti Politti-style closing jam of "Wrong Crowd", Ripe 4 Luv is a masterpiece. All 8 cuts are aces and each song stands perfectly on its own.
I'm gonna show my age a bit with this but here goes: you know how you'd sit in front of the tape deck crafting what you envisioned would be the perfect mix-tape when you were 18 or so? You'd have your favorite CDs, or records, spread out around you and you'd be planning the sequencing even as the first cut was still being recorded onto the tape. You'd craft that tape to be the coolest representation of what you loved about music, the sample of what gave you joy in life as a young man or woman. Remember all that?
Ben Cook might be a lot younger than me but he certainly understands both how to craft the perfect pop song and, equally, how that sort of thing can bring so much joy to a listener 'cause this is a downright joyous -- and fun! -- record. Deliriously catchy and effortlessly pop in the purest sense of that word, the 8 cuts on Young Guv's Ripe 4 Luv positively ring with possibilities.
I am too old to use music as a cultural divider anymore but, really, if you don't love something like "Kelly, I'm Not a Creep" then I really don't see any hope for you. I certainly don't understand why you'd be reading this blog if you didn't get that tune.
Man, oh man, I know I get enthusiastic on this site but Ripe 4 Luv by Young Guv is a flat-out instant classic record. Get it on Slumberland Records as soon as you possibly can.