The early songs on Canadian guitarist Ben Cook’s latest release, Ripe 4 Luv (under his Young Guv moniker) has an odd charming quality of a bare-bones demo that someone pieced together using a mid-90’s Boss digital recorder. Low-rent digital effects and the stock sounding drum machine backing the first two tracks “Crushing Sensation” and “Ripe 4 Luv” certainly contribute to this charm. “Crushing Sensation” begins with an unadulterated guitar seemingly plugged straight into a PA mixer and features lyrics that would fit something a 13 year old would write for his Sadie Hawkins dance date. If this sounds like a detraction it really isn’t it all fits with the song’s aesthetic of cheesy sentiment, fitting on an album with a title worthy of fitting in on any 80’s hair metal band’s discography. “Ripe 4 Luv” continues with this charming minimalism but has a more complicated (I know, somewhat contradictory) approach with a layered vocal chorus that has generous delay.
“Crawling Back to You” is a considerable departure from the two previous songs, this track has more of a lush early 90’s Madchester feel evocative of the Happy Mondays. “Crawling Back to You” has more pop sensibilities in the lyrical composition and features acoustic drums and hard driven amplifiers in its guitar sound. “Aquarian” takes a step back into the odd demo territory, however it has a more finished feel than the first two tracks of the album. “Aquarian” is another example of lo-fi 80’s electronica revivalism that has become common in the music scene today, it is artfully executed and a pleasant if unsubstantial song. However at the 4 minute mark of the song it transitions into guitar feedback seemingly out of the blue and does not carry over into the next track, making it a rather odd production decision.
“Dear Drew” is the most conventional song on the album, which surrounded by a grouping of tracks that are listenable on the basis of their eccentricity alone is a bit of a rough conversion. While ok on it’s own merits it is perhaps not the best fit for the album. “Living the Dream” is a return to the Madchester pop sensibilities with a jangly chorus guitar (or twelve string guitar, I couldn’t quite make it out) and more than a little tongue in cheek over cheerfulness. “Wrong Crowd” concludes the album with an infectious modulated bass riff and combines vintage synth pop with a funk element. It’s long form repetitive dreamlike lyrics and saxophone laden musing compare rather favorably with fellow Canadian rockers Destroyer. Ripe 4 Luv is worth a consideration if only for it’s unusual nature and variety of musical forms it traverses even with it’s relatively short 8 track length. Ripe 4 Luv is certainly a prime example of what can happen when an artist is allowed to work on their own and switch from genre to genre at will. Some may dislike the lack of focus, however it is a refreshing if somewhat ADD laden approach.