Skip to main content

Young Guv's essential guide to power pop

(Image credit: Tristan CM)

At first glance, Young Guv – AKA Fucked Up guitarist and No Warning vocalist Ben Cook – might seem an unorthodox choice of guide when it comes to the overtly joyous, often sickly sweet, world of power pop. His bands, synonymous with punk rock and New York hardcore respectively, paint a slightly harder edge to his musical stylings. On the surface, at least. 

But listen a little closer and that influence has always been there. Fucked Up's best work has always been laced with sweet melody and chiming, uplifting guitars. Their latest album, "hardcore opera" Dose Your Dreams, cartwheeled between genres weaving in plenty of pop-drenched hooks and multi-layered harmonies as it went.

All that's a moot point anyway, as Cook has recently released an album of accomplished power pop which recalls the best moments of the likes of Redd Kross and Cheap Trick, and then drenches them in a layer of alt-rock stylings. Like all the best power pop, it's vibrant, catchy as all hell, but occasionally makes you feel like bursting inexplicably into tears. It's best described in his own words: "I'm there, and I'm trying not to cry from the overwhelming feeling of sadness and happiness." And that, we think, is pretty much power pop in a nutshell.

Here, Cook guides us through his essential power pop playlist. Check out his recent single, Every Flower I See, at the bottom of the page.

1. Andre Cymone - Voice On The Radio

"From Prince's MNPLS funk crew. We all know those dudes do what they do better than anyone and that includes power pop. Here's a deepish cut from his album Living In The New Wave. Songs like When You Were Mine are a pretty obvious choice in this genre, so I went a little deeper into the purple wave that has done so much good and groove for music. Don't sleep on Andre."

2. Rasberries - Go All The Way

"People toss around the term power pop. Genres are annoying. We can fight all day long about what is what, but here is a classic moment you cannot deny. To me true power pop has to have a rock'n'roll guitar with some sugar on top – AKA adding vocal harmonies until the listener is close to puking."

3. Tony Molina - Nothing I Can Say

"This is my good homie. We've toured America together twice. He's also insane. He's also the world's best current songwriter by far. If you haven't looked into Tony's discography, I'm really sorry you've been asleep this long. I don't even want to talk about how good or important he is. If I type about this any longer it will ruin the musical experience, so pull up your phone now and listen to Kill The Lights the entire way through."

4. Lindsay Buckingham - Trouble

"Something about this guy really annoys me. I kind of hate how this song starts with his weird Kermit The Frog voice counting into the mic. But then all of a sudden, one of his greatest songs to ever exist opens up like a Laurel Canyon mountain flower sprinkled with some weak-hitting lavender cocaine. This potential douche bag had his hand on the power pop buttons quite frequently during his career, and I love it."

5. Primal Scream - Sonic Sister Love

"I feel that people pretend to like this band more than they really do. This would be a good place to go back and start for all posers who just like the T-shirt off instagram more than the actual band. Incredible arrangement and vibe."

6. Vic Asher - What Am I Gonna Do

"I have no idea who this guy is. But he really doesn't like that he got cheated on, that's for sure. I found this song on a compilation a while back and it's kind of stuck around on some playlists I have made. It has that Pacific Coastal Doheny Drive groove and a bit more of a blue-eyed soul vibe with a guy whining about a girl. I suppose I'm a sucker still for this kind of stuff. Sue me. Oh, it also as a key change at the end if you wanted to barf a bit harder."

7. Ned Doheny - If You Should Fall

"I guess this is power pop. Damn, I'm really hating describing things with a general term like that like a pseudo music journalist. This feels wrong. I apologise. If anything could make me feel better though, it's this song, any day of the week. Ned Doheny I'm not sure is a slept on artist if you rock this kind of music on the regular, but if you don't know him I'd urge you to start with this beautiful track. It has horns... in a good way!"

8. Velvet Crush - Drive Me Down

"Blake from Power Trip put me into this track. A bit more 90s alt which I don't actually consider power pop at all, but since everyone is calling my music power pop, I guess this classifies too. A bit more of a greasy indie rock basement sentimental banger. If I was the kind of person to compare it to something it would be Guided By Voices/Bob Mould... but I'm not, so check it out and enjoy it because it's simply good!"

9. FR David - I Need You 

"I really like weird, kind of obscure guys singing in falsetto over corny 80s production – if it's a well written tune. This is cute at best, but hits the spot when you need a corny pleasing pop song for your morning run. This song is like Honey Nut Corn Flakes. You know it's not amazing for you, but hits the spot (when yer high)."

10. Phil Seymour - Baby It's You

"Okay, I've been fighting including something obvious this entire list. Here is a classic from Phil Seymour. One of, if not the best and quintessential, power pop artists of all time. Okay, maybe he's not Nick Lowe... but he's close. Every song on this LP is good, which is not normal for the power pop genre. Usually its one golden nugget in a big bag of rotten sugar. Phil Seymour beats the odds, all day."

Young Guv’s new double album release, Guv I & GUV II, is out now via Run For Cover Records. Listen to recent single Every Flower I See below: 

Briony Edwards

Briony is the Editor in Chief of Louder and is in charge of sorting out who and what you see covered on the site. She started working with Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines back in 2015 and has been writing about music and entertainment in many guises since 2009. She is a big fan of cats, Husker Du and pizza.