Young Guv in a multi-colored leather jacket outside a store front covered in graffiti
Credit: Danielle Nemet

In all my years contributing to the Reader, the artist I’ve written about the most is probably Toronto’s Ben Cook—partly because he’s been so incredibly prolific for the past two decades, but also because his widely varying output is so consistently solid and great. He cut his teeth in the hardcore world while fronting No Warning and playing guitar in Fucked Up, but with the solo project Young Guv (formerly Young Governor) he’s explored every facet of the pop realm, playing with garage rock, electro-funk, new wave, pop punk, and more. Since 2019 Cook has been writing and recording with his best and most fully realized version of Guv by far: an opulent, endlessly hooky, Big Star-inspired three-guitar power-pop band. His latest record, Guv III (out this month on Run for Cover), shows a new level of sophistication and a growing mastery of heartfelt melody. Recalling Big Star’s Chris Bell and Oasis’s Liam Gallagher in equal measure, Guv III brims with chiming Rickenbackers and layered, glammy vocals, and the whole pristine, warm-and-fuzzy thing is fun, shimmering, and beautiful. Cook has been on a roll ever since his debut solo seven-inch, 2008’s “Virginia Creeper,” and every time a new release comes out, it’s better than the last. Guv III is sheer brilliance front to back, the type of record that feels fresh and timeless at once and will surely stand the test of time.

Young Guv’s Guv III is available via Bandcamp.