Unpopular Advent 2019 – Day 14

Young Guv – ‘Can I Just Call U’ from ‘Young Guv I and II’

The ‘Young Guv 1’ and ‘Young Guv 2’ sets were released as separate entities a month or so apart, and so it is probably fair to say that this is some kind of conceptual action that would encourage us to NOT think of the entire seventeen song collection as a “double album”. Even though the mirrored sleeve art would suggest that we read it as such and even though it kinda is. Maybe it’s just a way of allowing us to enjoy the pleasures of a double album spread over double the time, a means of pressuring us to make distinctions and to begrudgingly make choices about which of the discs is our favourite.

Of course, thinking about it, this is inevitably how we have always approached “double albums” in the traditional gatefold sleeve and two slabs of vinyl context (even if we publicly proclaim this not to be the case and that we think every moment on The Beatles’ White Album is every bit as good as any other) so perhaps it is a clever conceptual move by Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook in his Pop persona. We are genuinely fascinated to know if either of these two sets have sold more or less than the other, who made those choices and why. And yes, this is a somewhat inaccurate use of the words ‘genuinely’ and ‘fascinated’. For in the finest spirit of Pop Consumption, we really could not care less.

What we do care about is that ‘Young Guv 1’ certainly serves us sweet slice after slice of euphoric Power Pop that could list its ingredients as being Big Star, Badfinger, Brinsely Schwartz and, to break up this festival of alliteration, Teenage Fanclub, dBs and The Raspberries. The songs swoop past us like hook-laden hoodlums blowing bubblegum kisses and scuffing converse hi-tops on the scorching summer sidewalks. They surge and slink, cuddling us in candy floss and leaving us sticky with pleasure. As it were.

Cook clearly understands the how’s and wherefore’s of Perfect Pop Construction (we understand he has ghostwriting credits for Taylor Swift in his resume) and whilst we can understand critics thumbing their noses at songs like the marvellously sing-song ‘High On My Mind’ and the gorgeously, shimmeringly euphoric ‘Every Flower I See’ and calling them artificial pastiches of past glories we also feel the need to shout ‘ba-ba-ba-ba-babababa’ at the top of our voices and Carry On Dancing Regardless (And as a kinda connected sidetrack let us remember that Fucked Up once covered Another Sunny Day’s ‘Anorak City’ so we should not be surprised to see Cook standing this side of the ‘authenticity’ line, smirking into his acid-laced lemonade).

If ‘Young Guv 2’ deviates somewhat from the blueprint laid down by its immediate predecessor then that’s all to the good. It’s not as though Cook deviates into completely Unfamiliar Territory though, for the threads of (Indie)Pop connectivity are bright and catchy enough to draw our attentions. There are times when we listen to the likes of the funky ‘Caught Lookin’’, ’Can I Luv U In My Own Way’ or ‘Trying To Decide’ when we think we might be listening to Green Gartside fronting The Tough Alliance. This, we assume you all understand, is one of the finest compliments one can receive.

Then, just as we’re about to think there really are enough differences between these two albums to suggest dumping the mirrored sleeve idea and calling them something entirely different, Cook drops the Power (PURE)Pop explosion of ‘Can I Just Call U’ and we’re transported back into those universes of intertwining melodies, harmonies, Cremola Foam guitars and Wiggle Waggle drums. Two minutes and fifty three seconds of Nothing Else Matters. A fraction of our lifetimes captured in a bubble that smells of powder pink and parma violets. A temporary tattoo of Superman saving the world. Always and forever, Amen.

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