“Queen of Hearts,” the lead single from Fucked Up’s acclaimed (and Polaris-shortlisted) 2011 album, David Comes To Life, opens with a fanfare of electric guitars. The track is awesome, but the rippling, buoyant guitar tones are unequivocally heavenly, a shimmering wave of pure exuberance. A Love Too Strong, the new EP from Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook (recording as Young Governor, one of the industrious musician’s other projects), is approximately 22 minutes of those pristine guitar sounds, spread over six unfussy tracks of smartly constructed power-pop.
You can hear nods to everything from George Michael (the subtle saxophone that snakes through the coda of the twangy “Not In It For the Good Time”) to The Posies (the rumble, fuzz, and crunch that opens “To Lose”) to Matthew Sweet (the lackadaisical vocals and sublime hooks on “Heal In Time”), but there’s a unity to these tiny perfect pop songs. Cook doesn’t reinvent any wheels here, but A Love Too Strong is a collection of tunes that will sound like classics 10 years from now—and, for that matter, would’ve sounded like classics two decades ago.
The man who deserves special accolades, though, is recording engineer Steve Chahley, who’s done a fantastic job of capturing Cook and company’s resonant, gleaming riffs with superb fidelity. Just call him the King of Guitars.
Playlist Picks: “Not In It For the Good Time,” “To Lose,” “I Am the Rogue”