I hadn't heard of this record until the postman delivered it on Wednesday. It was my first selection from vinyl subscription service Wax and Stamp, and a damn fine selection it is too. If everything they send through is as good and as unusual as this we're going to get along just fine.
Some background on Ben Cook - he's the guitarist on hardcore band Fucked Up. But his punk credentials haven't stopped him ghostwriting pop hits for the likes of Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.
It's retro styling mines a different vein to the standard electronic dance/pop references. Opener 'Crushing Sensation' sounds a lot like Split Enz (ask your dad) while title track 'Ripe 4 Luv' has got hints of 'My Best Friend's Girl' by The Cars (ask your uncle). 'Aquarian' meanwhile steps up the soul quotient as he hits the drum machine and shuffles his way across the dancefloor. When 'Kelly, I'm Not A Creep' jangles into life you think it's going to be a lost Byrds classic before turning into more of a lost indie guitar anthem that blends The Lemonheads and Teenage Fanclub into a melodic milkshake. 'Living The Dream' really sounds like he is, driving down the hiway in Los Angeles as the sunsets. It's hard to be certain whether closer 'Wrong Crowd' oversteps the boundary between affection tribute and kitsch, especially when the sax kicks in, but if you can forgive him the slight excess it's a great, upbeat way to end the album.
It kind of reminds me of Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) in the way he can turn his hand to any genre and make a really good job of it. It's all disarmingly casual and slightly lo-fi, but hidden within it are a set of fantastic tunes. It's a beach barbecue blow-out kind of album that demands some hot sun and cold beer to help it take its place in your affections.
'Ripe 4 Luv' is out now on Slumberland Records, and if you get the vinyl it comes in a lovely shade of blue.