Go Go Berlin

Electric Lives

Written by: TL on 02/09/2015 12:55:47

Since the release of their debut album "New Gold" in 2013, Danish retro rockers Go Go Berlin have rapidly been building a career that most bands from here can look on with jealousy, touring both the domestic and the international festival circuit and having songs gain entry into the closely guarded land of radio airplay. Based on our experiences with both their album and their live performances, however, the Aarhus-based quintet have earned every ounce of hype coming their way, and thus their follow-up album "Electric Lives" has been one to look forward to with considerable anticipation. And having been out for almost two weeks now, the album has shown itself as one of several commendable qualities, yet also one that shows a few signs of Go Go Berlin having had less time to stack up songwriting ideas before hitting the studio.

The album opens with a cinematic intro in the form of the aptly titled "006", which indeed sounds a bit like dramatic and sexy Bond-movie intro music. Towards the end, though, when a bit of vocalised melody comes in, the mood is twisted slightly over to a more Ennio Morricone-ish 70's Western-feeling that's going to stick around in the album's atmosphere. Other than the cinematic feeling though, Go Go Berlin's expression extends logically from the prior album: The band still figures as sort of a Danish alternative to Kasabian, similarly cherry-picking elements of old-school rock and shining them up with modern production quality and festival-size songwriting. Overall the sound has a nice and organic feel to it, so it sounds like you're listening to a living and breathing band, but the mix is crisp and clear as only state of the art production can ensure it.

The album shows its best side in its title track, as well as in "Kill Me First", "Kids" and arguably also "Purple Heart" and "You Are The Sun". The song "Electric Lives" has been out for a while as a single, and obviously works great in its hazy verse and the proggy, symphonic bridge, which does however make you wish the band would allow their records to get a bit heavier in such a moment, and that they would explore territory like this slightly more often. "Kill Me First" has both the reverberating signature riff and the mindless vocal hook to hypnotise a huge open air audience, truly bringing home the aforementioned Kasabian comparison, and all the while the Doors'-like organ sounds which characterise the band churn in the background and add to the vintage atmosphere.

When there's room to criticise "Electric Lives" as an album in comparison to its predecessor "New Gold", it is because it frankly lacks some of the diversity and consistency that the band's first album offered. The first four tracks here, although not without some catchy qualities each, all seem to circle about at medium tempo while milking some Bee Gees-like falsetto choirs that the band has added to their arsenal. It works in isolation but begins to feel like a trope after it has come in for the chorus of a few songs in a row, eventually making it feel like the first bunch of songs are pretty much "Kill Me First and its somewhat paler siblings". Particularly "Famous Till The End" grows stale quickly despite a decent verse.

Things get more varied on the album's second half, which is both for the better and the worse. "Rest For The Restless" is a pretty forgettable ballad, and "Starlight / WDYW" hardly justifies its ten-minute length with anything to prevent the listener's attention from drifting. "The Party" has some allure, sounding like a happy-go-lucky Kings Of Leon-ish tune, "Purple Heart" finally introduces an upbeat pace while going for some near-kitsch sentimentality in the chorus, though, and "You Are The Sun" makes a better case as a ballad, with singer Christian Vium allowing his Steven Tyler-esque purr to slide up into some nice and airy falsetto notes.

All things added up, "Electric Lives" is a pleasant listen, which once more showcases Go Go Berlin's charismatic and swagger-filled retro rock sound, yet the songwriting is a bit more fifty-fifty than last time around. And while the level of simple catchiness is generally kept quite high, it is likely that only a handful of the songs will grow over time, which makes you think with a bit of regret on how some of these songs are bound to push off previously on-the-brink setlist inclusions like "Bad!" for instance. Go Go Berlin hardly falter with their second effort then, but considering their tight grip of things, it feels like they could be an even more interesting band if they dared to get a bit heavier while reintroducing some of the delicious diversity in song types that characterised their first album.

Download: Electric Lives, Kill Me First, You Are The Sun
For The Fans Of: Mando Diao, Kasabian, Razorlight, Rolling Stones
Listen: facebook.com/gogoberlin

Release date 21.08.2015
Mermaid Records / Sony Music Denmark

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