Will Joseph Cook makes pop music in 3D. Though his melodies are instinctively catchy, it’s the poignant, questioning lyrics that linger uncomfortably under your skin. “I’m really into duality,” he says. “I’ve always liked music that sounds triumphant at the same time as sounding completely fragile. That’s what makes music emotional, when you can’t quite pinpoint what it is”. It’s this conflict that sits at the centre of Cook’s appeal — especially in his bold, satirical visuals, which he’s passionate about creating. The videos for his seemingly happy-go-lucky tunes, ‘Girls Like Me’ and ‘Sweet Dreamer’, battle between heartbreaking realities and unsettling surrealism. “I like creating a conflict between aesthetic and what is actually being said” he says — a sense that applies to both his songs and videos. “I want it to be like how you actually think. You never feel just one emotion at any time”.
Now 19 years old, Cook has already been honing this multi-dimensional approach to crafting infectious songs since he was just 14. Finding inspiration in everything from the youthful indie charms of MGMT, Vampire Weekend and Darwin Deez to the post punk art pop of Talking Heads, Orange Juice and Gang of Four.
Cook began crafting his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, in late 2015. Still true to his bedroom roots, he writes his songs alone, sketching out arrangements in Logic, before bringing his demos to the studio. “It’s a pop album,” he says definitively. “I like songs to be instant. I don’t necessarily like it to be a challenge on your first listen”. Mostly dealing with the tumult and technicolour of teenage romance, a common theme among the tracks is Cook’s ability to take the seemingly mundane and imbue it with tragicomic significance. The overarching theme of the record is unbridled joy and emotion, conveyed in its shimmering alt-pop delivery.