Same as Good because Danish, Go Go Berlin celebrate their tenth anniversary this year. With new album “Expectations”, they show that there is always room for redefining ourselves, and prove that rock as a genre fits much more than one might think.
I’ve been struggling lately with writer’s block. No reasonable sentence was coming out of me, and I felt no excitement about music that I’ve been listening to. Then came Go Go Berlin’s new album. I finally felt there was something interesting. “Expectations” fulfills many needs: it can be an album to play softly in the background, listen to in a car and sing as if nobody could hear you, because they can’t. It’s also an album that — when you give it time and attention — pierces your soul with harsh truths, as well as comforting messages. One might say that it’s too polished, but if there was no polished, pretty music, what would we listen to in our cars while stuck in morning traffic? “Expectations” can be a great brain relaxer, but also a teaster, if you choose to dive deeper into the lyrics.
A decade ago, Go Go Berlin started as a pure rock band. Heavy guitars, bad boy attitude, and loud, high-energy songs with strong riffs were their trademark. As time went on, the band discovered new sounds and shifted towards a less obvious musical path. We all mellow out eventually; the key is to find balance between the rebel and the pensioner within us. Go Go Berlin are doing it quite well.
Last year, the band parted ways with a founding member and guitarist Mikkel Dyrehave. It left the three remaining members (Christian Vium, Anders Søndergaard and Christoffer Østergaard) heartbroken to some extent, which they explored on their 2020 EP “Lyfe”. At the same time, as they shared in an interview with Good because Danish, it gave them “even more energy in some weird sense.” Keeping the band for ten years is a great achievement. Overcoming obstacles and reinventing themselves while staying true to their core DNA is even more admirable.
I’m a big fan of Chris Cornell. He was not afraid to challenge himself and to get out of his comfort zone. He was, and still is, a grunge icon, but he experimented with pop, jazz, he reached for classical music, as well as rock for inspiration. Some fans dissmissed him for the collaboration with Timbaland, but I find it fascinating how he entered the pop world to try and do something different, while remaining the rock legend and putting his characteristic grunge vocals into the bombastic frame of Timbaland’s beats. I see “Expectations” as an attempt to do the same by Go Go Berlin. Essentially, they are still a rock band. But they developed into a complex, ambiguous collective, reaching for a wide range of inspirations and open to experiment — their music is more than just in-your-face drums and guitars. Some fans might say they changed too much or lost their original edge. I say, well done, guys! You’re bold enough to do something new. Go Go Berlin’s 2019 LP “The Ocean” was the first hint of them heading in another direction, but on “Expectations” they truly unleash their creativity and follow their muse without looking back.
The album starts strong with “Call It Karma”, an opener that shows this isn’t another generic rock release. Clearly, these guys had real fun making the record and they explored a lot of different ends of the music spectrum for inspiration. The more I listen to “Expectations”, the more I feel like this is a statement from Go Go Berlin, saying “we know who we are, we know where we are going, and you can’t make us change our minds.”
“Expectiations” presents many upbeat, vivid melodies, but the lyrics are often in opposition to the atmosphere of the music. In “Better Off Alone”, a blissful guitar sets the stage for soft vocals explaining that “I’ve got too much baggage, too much damage, you can’t save me” and that “you might be better off alone”. I’m a big fan of this songwriting. Go Go Berlin keep the listeners alert at all times, force them to pay attention to the lyrics and think of what they hear. They also allow the listener to be sad while dancing like nobody’s watching.
What’s the secret of staying on top of things and maintaining the band for ten years? After listening to “Expectations”, my answer would be: not letting anyone’s expectations surpass your own thinking, having a strong support force in your bandmates. Go Go Berlin seem to have it all figured out: they follow their own path, expand musical horizons with charm and childlike enthusiasm, especially on some of the album’s strongest songs — “Careless”, “Replicator” and “2nd Stranger”. These tracks carry a strong message, showcase different faces of the band, yet stay close to one another, parts of a bigger whole.
This album is proof that rock is an incredibly wide genre and that categorising music has become pointless. It also shows that we will never be able to please everybody. Therefore, we should not worry about it too much. Most of all, “Expectations” is a solid, thought-through piece by a group of friends who continue to have fun making music together. I hope that we at Good because Danish will learn from their example and continue to have fun covering Danish music.