Though Toronto-based guitarist and vocalist Ben Cook got his start playing hardcore and was a vital member of Fucked Up, the music he makes under the Young Guv (or Young Governor) name leans in a decidedly poppier, always surprising direction. After launching his career with a raw garage rock sound, Cook steered the band in a more melodic direction that culminated with the diverse Ripe 4 Luv album in 2015. After an '80s R&B detour on 2 Sad 2 Funk, Cook exhibited his love of pure power pop on 2019's Guv 1 and Guv II, two short albums that delivered hooks and melodies in the tradition of vintage Teenage Fanclub and Velvet Crush.
Cook started his musical career in the Toronto hardcore band No Warning in the early 2000s and when they split in 2005, he began playing guitar with Fucked Up. The first album he appeared on was 2006's groundbreaking Hidden World. As the group became more popular and busy, Cook still found time for other projects, most notably the punky power pop combo he fronted called Marvelous Darlings, who released a series of singles for a variety of labels between 2007 and 2010.
He started making solo recordings in 2008 under the name Young Governor, debuting with the Hidden Love EP. His sound was lo-fi and raw, roughly combining punk and garage rock. Cook began to expand his approach on 2009's "Bedtime Stories" single, adding some vintage organ sounds and more space in the arrangements. He continued releasing singles for a variety of labels like Dirtnap, 12XU, and Tough Love over the next few years, with each release getting poppier than the last.
In 2011, Fucked Up went on hiatus and Cook adopted the new name of Young Guv & the Scuzz and teamed with drummer Jesse Labovitz and bassist Ryan Gavel for the power pop-influenced 2012 EP A Love Too Strong. Cook next turned to synth pop, forming the duo Yacht Club with his former bandmate in Marvelous Darlings, Matt Delong. They released singles in 2013 and 2014 before disbanding. By then Cook was back playing with Fucked Up. He had also changed his band's name to just Young Guv and made an album for Slumberland Records. Released in 2015, Ripe 4 Luv touched on cheesy '80s rock, murky chillwave, jangling guitar pop, and smooth soft rock while also being the poppiest thing Cook had done yet.
After another single on Slumberland in 2017, Cook changed labels and sounds when he issued the happily weird '80s funk- and R&B-inspired 2 Sad 2 Funk for Scotland's Night School label. He didn't stick with that sound for long, though, and on 2019's Guv 1, Cook fully embraced early-'90s corporate power pop à la Sloan and Matthew Sweet. The eight-song record was released by Run for Cover in August 2019. Guv II followed in October, and along with more power pop-inspired songs, Cook re-added previously established soft rock, R&B, and new wave influences to the mix so that the end result played like a collection of singles taken from the entirety of Young Guv's career. ~ Tim Sendra