If you’ve spent any significant amount of time around the Atlanta music scene, it’s likely you’ve run across Jake Cook at some point or other. The songwriter/producer has spent much of the past decade recording and releasing music under a variety of different sounds and personas, most notably Trench Party’s skewed pop and Jacket’s nihilist hip-hop. While each project has been, in a sense, a reflection of his identity, one often got the sense that Cook was exploring various voices and trying on different characters. With his latest project Seal Pup, however, he’s hoping to shed some of those veils and allow more of his true self to shine through.
“Seal Pup is pretty much an extension of the kind of stuff I was doing with Trench Party but with more of an emphasis on pure sincerity,” Cook explains. “[It’s] really just supposed to me as myself writing songs about my life and the stuff I feel is important.”
Released earlier this year, Seal Pup’s debut LP, Difficulties, was an uneven effort that often sounded like Cook was in the process of finding his footing and figuring things out sonically. By comparison, his latest single is far more confident and assured. “Money Stranges Everything” (if you’re wondering, yes, the title is a play on the Cyndi Lauper cut “Money Changes Everything”) is the lead single from Seal Pup’s upcoming EP, Always Next Year, and it finds the songwriter sliding effortlessly from one low-key groove to the next. If you’re looking for a standout moment here, I’m not exactly sure there is one — it’s more a matter of the way Cook presents and arranges his thoughts and ideas, layering guitar and organs and multiple hooks on top of one another, with each interconnected piece building into an ecstatic whole.
Lyrically, the song is sung from the perspective of Cook’s younger self, who’s angry at his older self for choosing the necessity of making a living over pursuing art. Yet, in the end, even his youthful idealism must bow before the vagaries of life and living. “You can’t pay the rent with your conviction” he croons matter-of-factedly, a tacit admission that even our most deeply held beliefs often have their limits.
For Cook, all of this is in the hopes of writing a record that will serve his truths, that will allow him to be nakedly transparent with his thoughts and feelings. “People can expect a solid pop record full of earnest emotion,” Cook says of his forthcoming EP. “I think these will be some of my best produced, most honest songs to date… As long as I don’t feel like I’ve compromised or pandered to anyone I think it will be an enjoyable listen.”
According to Cook, Always Next Year will be out by Christmas.