Good pop artists are like buses. You stand about waiting for one to show up whilst listening to the ear-scraping dreck that make sup the Radio 1 A-List. Then they all show up at once. April has been huge for indie rock. Blaenavon, The Big Moon and now Will Joseph Cook have all dropped impressive debuts just weeks apart from one another.
It’s like that 3 Stooges routine where they all try to squeeze through the same door-frame, only it’s with great pop records instead.
On Sweet Dreamer WJC solidifies his position as one of the most impressive up-and-comers of the year. The record is a sunny, winning blend of acoustic strumming, new-wavey guitars and tasteful synth and keyboard flourishes. It may tip it’s hat to records of the past, most notably the dream-pop of the early 80s, but it feels distinctly modern. Here we have thirteen shiny, orderly pop tracks (kept to little more than 3 minutes each) that are as crisp and fresh as the blood orange adorning the cover suggests.
The biggest moments are still the singles; the anthemic ‘Beach’, the playful ‘Girls Like Me’ and the stand-out ‘Take Me Dancing’. The latter is an absolute winner, and sees WJC at his most charming and convincing.
The new tracks allow for a little more experimentation. ‘For Thursday’ is the flip-side of ‘Take Me Dancing’, and buried beneath the sunny chorus it’s a bitter track. If ‘Take Me Dancing’ is about taking chances, ‘For Thursday’ is about meekly accepting the status quo. It’s shot through with the anxiety that defines the millennial generation.
‘Water’s Gone Cold’ ends the album on a rare moment of indecision. A quiet ballad, the contrast to the grinning confidence demonstrated throughout the album is stark. Far from detracting from the album’s message of feel-good aspiration, it humanises Will as a narrator.
Sweet Dreamer is a fantastic record. Whilst pop music becomes ever more monochromatic, with nihilistic mumbling songs about parties, vicious women, booty-calls and regret, it’s refreshing to hear a singer who actually sounds like he’s having a good time. An enjoyable and evocative listen.
Read our interview with Will here.