BØRNS experiments with second album


Singer-songwriter Garrett Borns, stylized as BØRNS, is taking a step in a new direction with his sophomore album, “Blue Madonna.”

The singer’s first full-length studio album, “Dopamine,” was released in 2015, with singles such as “Electric Love” and “10,000 Emerald Pools” skyrocketing the album into popularity. The album is fun, romantic and electro-pop driven, complimented by Borns’ falsetto and harmonies that are reminiscent of The Beach Boys.

With its many upbeat summer anthems, crafting a follow-up to this album seemed like a difficult task. And although it occasionally falls short, “Blue Madonna” does rise to this challenge.

From his genre-bending songs to his witty lyrics, Borns returns not as a pop prince, but as an alternative king.

This album is more introspective and mature than his first. One example of this is the shift in the cover art between the two albums. On the cover of “Dopamine,” Borns is pictured between a pair of bare legs, highlighting the themes of sexual tension and young love that drive the album.

On the cover of “Blue Madonna,” Borns stands alone. Even though many of the songs on the album are about love, they seem to focus more on Borns himself, suggesting maturity and growth. The use of the word “Blue” in the title of the album also demonstrates an increased introspection as Borns moves away from pop-anthems into songs with a deeper range of emotion.

In tracks such as “Iceberg,” a slow song that hooks you with its falsetto as it gradually crescendos, Borns exemplifies his newfound maturity. In this song, he describes his love as an iceberg, writing, “my love is so much deeper than you see,” unlike the simplistic way he describes love as “electric” and “paradise” in his first album.

Besides being more mature than his first album, “Blue Madonna” is also more experimental.

In the standout track, “Tension (Interlude),” Borns describes a relationship that fizzles out before it begins. The song feels like innovative elevator music, with a pounding beat and repetitive melody. It features an aloof performance by Borns, adding to the song’s originality. At less than two minutes long, this track leaves the listener wanting more.

Other standout tracks on the album include “Faded Heart,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Supernatural” and “Bye-bye Darling.” All of these songs stray from the path trodden by Borns’ previous album, experimenting with rhythm, themes and lyrics.

For example, “Sweet Dreams” hooks its listeners by starting off with the sound of an owl hooting and a record player starting before Borns sings the line, “heart’s in the cage.” The song itself is experimental because it mourns the end of a relationship through an upbeat rhythm.

Despite the album’s many interesting tracks, some songs fall short.

The first song of the album, “God Save Our Young Blood,” which features singer Lana Del Rey, is forgettable. To the dismay of the listener, the line, “God save our young blood,” is repeated several times throughout each chorus, quickly growing old. The song should not be the first on the album as it doesn’t set the scene for the experimentation and excellent vocals of many of the other songs on the album.

Similarly, “I Don’t Want U Back” quickly becomes annoying. The song is upbeat, with pop melodies and simplistic lyrics, breaking away from the more alternative and mature tone set by the rest of the album. It sounds like a song you would find on Borns’ first album.

Another song, “Second Night of Summer,” has an excellent verse and crescendos into a chorus with an interesting beat. However, this is ruined by the laughable line, “throwing me that shade like I’m not cool enough.” This lyric seems out of place with the rest of the song and is one example of Borns’ experimentation on “Blue Madonna” that doesn’t quite work.

Despite its flaws, Borns’ sophomore album represents a step forward for him. Its maturity, depth and cohesive feel make it an enjoyable listening experience. The evolution he demonstrates between his first and second album is impressive and hints at even more improvement in the future.

Borns is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.