If you’ve been around the Danish indie scene at all over the past ten years, you probably encountered the duo Reptile Youth at some point. Songs like “Speeddance” and “Shooting Up Sunshine” were stuck in many heads in 2012. Half of that duo was Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen, who went solo several years ago. He now goes under the alias Goss and just released his debut album “Group Therapy”.
Musically, this is a lot less rough indie rock and more shiny country-infused pop. Mads uses the same brush as in his earlier solo art, but paints a completely new picture with no need for genre-framing. “Goss: On Being Goss” is a sympathetic but disturbing short film by Joacim Fougner trying to describe the new persona.
“Group Therapy” starts gently with the intro “Sing A Song For Me”. The second track “Blood” surprises with a country guitar, sounding like a horse galloping, but don’t you worry; This is far from classic country. “They think I’m on drugs but I’m not. Just everything gets into my blood, babe,“ Goss sings nonchalantly in the repetitive pop chorus.
Going in to “Fighting For The Gospel”, I have to admit there’s a bit of country here. On this song, Goss lovably duets with Selma Judith. “Where have you been,” he asks — “I’ve been running through a desert on a track that don’t exist / I’ve been living out my daydreams in a movie with a twist / I’ve been fighting for the Gospel with tornados in my head / I’m broken but you cannot break my faith,” she sings back. Here we have imagery of the lost manic pixie dream girl cliché. It works well in indie but has me a little bored by now. Still, Goss’ and Judith’s two voices harmonise so amazingly that it overshadows the lyrics. Their vibe echoes Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris’ collaboration on the album “All The Roadrunning”. Judith’s soprano sharp voice, the male call and female response pattern, are perfectly placed in a country setting musically and lyrically. That is something that gets me every time because it is music I grew up with; it immediately feels like home.
A certain crush is “Racehorse”. “All these things feel like I got a racehorse running circles in my mind,” Goss is singing, no, grooving, again and again. He creates an addictive rhythm you never want to stop. This is one of my favourites on Group Therapy, with only two and a half minutes way too short. The following track “Everybody’s Going” is a more upbeat and optimistic radio single. I can imagine it being remixed by any EDM DJ and breaking the charts all over the world. This is a perfect pop song, and I hope it gets all the airplay it deserves, same as “Country Boy”. This beautiful album is concluded by a two-minute outro “Shine Your Light”. Like a delicate ballerina pirouetting and dissolving in a cloud above a frozen lake, this song is a weightless beauty.
Though 11 songs, the Group Therapy clocks in just 30 minutes. It is a perfect experience for your commute to work, on the way to a date, or just whenever you want to exit your routine life, and dream for a bit.