There are two ways to approach NCT Dream’s Go, and each will color your perception of the song in vastly different ways. Up until now, Dream has acted as the pop-oriented unit of NCT, and the delivery method for the music most closely aligned with my personal taste. Their 2017 My First And Last remains an ebullient high-water mark in NCT’s discography. But if you come into Go looking for a continuation of that vibe, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
As the concept of NCT continues to evolve, its various sub-units seem to be circling closer to the same core sound. Approach Go as if it’s an NCT 127 track and you’ll set yourself up for a far less jarring experience. Whether every NCT unit should be peddling the same style (they shouldn’t) is a discussion for another time, but the track forgoes the type of sunny melodies you’d expect from Dream. In their place is a dulled techno trap crunch punctuated by bursts of bratty declarations where the group reminds us yet again that, yes, they are still young.
Not since EXO’s Wolf have we heard such a shout-heavy chorus anchoring an SM track. And like Wolf, Go doesn’t shy away from the kind of belt-it-out power notes that defined SM’s early material. Main vocal Haechan carries these moments, but the rest of the group has clearly shown growth in this area as well. The song’s verses are an unsettled brew of competing rhythms and electronic blips, supporting a surprisingly robust vocal line. This extends to the icy post-chorus hook that feels like vintage EXO. Two thirds of the way, the instrumental shifts tempo in a fitful build towards Haechan’s climactic power note. I can’t help but think that Go would be even stronger had it done this earlier and more often, truly exploiting its experimental sound. In fact, there exists a world where Go abandons its trap backbone entirely, substituting heavy metal guitar to create the kind of teen rock anthem its abrasive chorus so wants to be.