BØRNS, Blue Madonna | Album Review
26-year old alternative artist Garrett Borns (BØRNS) delivers a fantastic sophomore album with Blue Madonna. The vocals, production, and songwriting are elite.
“God save, God save our young blood / God save, God save our young love / Hot pavement, hot pavement, hot wheels in the sun.” Back in 2015, Michigan bred, Cali-based alternative musician BØRNS released a fantastic, major label debut album, Dopamine. Throughout Dopamine, he proved himself to be a restless, eclectic musician – a gargantuan selling point. After more than a two-year hiatus, he returns with an even more alluring sophomore album, Blue Madonna.
“God Save Our Young Blood”
“God Save Our Young Blood” superbly commences Blue Madonna. The vocals begin relatively low-key, while the sound is cool, yet mysterious. There’s an air of chill, yet BØRNS still exhibits energy. Throughout, Lana Del Rey sings alongside him, as opposed to being featured in a substantial solo role. The pairing of the two distinct voices is strong. A true fever pitch occurs on the chorus, where the enigma grows more enigmatic, with synth-driven production leading the charge. As the ear adjusts and familiarizes itself to “God Save Our Young Blood,” the magic is revealed in all its glory.
“Faded Heart” cooks – up-tempo, driving, and chocked-full of energy. Despite his distinct, generally high-pitched voice, BØRNS packs a punch vocally. On the verses, he resides in his middle register, showcasing some grit, at least contextually. Expectedly, he ascends into his upper register on the centerpiece of “Faded Heart,” the memorable chorus.
“High as a pretty star / Don’t you break my faded heart / Don’t put me out / Show me what it’s all about / Don’t you break my faded heart / Don’t you break it, no.”
Other selling points: superb production and a rocking vibe.
BØRNS continues to flaunts his tender, but beautiful vocals on “Sweet Dreams”. His falsetto is on-point, while his overall execution is smooth, yet energetic. “Sweet Dreams” is well organized in regards to form, while the lyrics are straightforward and memorable. Once more, the production thrills.
“We Don’t Care”
BØRNS remains potent on the quick-paced, spirited “We Don’t Care.” (Overall) production, vocal production, and the music intensity represent bright spots. “Man” maintains the electricity, benefiting from an infectious, danceable groove, as well as exuberant vocals. The chorus is simple, yet memorable: “I wanna be your man.”
He continues to do work “Iceberg,” which is by no means cold. The best moment comes when the music really ‘digs in.’ The groove gets nastier, the instrumentation expands, and BØRNS is simply more invested. The sleek, modern electronics of “Second Night of Summer” are among the best of Blue Madonna. So is the song, which focuses on missing her. The roar of the gritty, distorted organ is perfect ‘fuel for the fire’ of key lyric, “Throwing me that shade like I’m not cool enough.”
“I Don’t Want U Back”
“I Don’t Want U Back” is simply glorious. BØRNS flaunts his distinct, beautiful instrument, most notably, masterful falsetto. Beyond the crowning achievement, there’s more goodness. The production shimmers in all its electronic, synth-driven glory. The songwriting is both memorable and thoughtful, particularly the chorus.
“I sleep better than every night you were lying next to me / Don’t wanna see your face, you need to face the facts / I don’t want you back / I don’t want you back.”
His authenticity and passion are formidable. Adding to the elite nature of the record is the harmonic progression.
“I had a different impression of you / Thought I would mention that I thought the tension was mutual / Ain’t no bedrooms in our future though.” Sigh, “Tension” is the sort of interlude you wish were longer. “Supernatural” continues on, in all its pulchritude, with the sounds and chorus being the most memorable moments.
“Is it us or is it supernatural? / Sometimes we fall so fast it’s hard to tell / Is it love or is it simply something else? / Sometimes I think I’m caught under a spell.”
Notably on “Blue Madonna,” Lana Del Rey reappears, uncredited. As for BØRNS, he superbly conveys his desire for ‘Blue Madonna,’ thanks to an authentic vocal performance and poetic lyrics. “Bye-bye Darling” concludes fittingly, finding him reminiscing, but moving on. “We had a good run darling now don’t you cry / I know in the end it’s gonna be just fine.”
All said and done, BØRNS delivers a fantastic sophomore album with Blue Madonna. He successfully captures matters of the heart, a central theme. Furthermore, there are no blatant missteps. The vocals, production, and songwriting are elite.
Gems: “God Save Our Young Blood,” “Faded Heart,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Second Night of Summer” & “I Don’t Want U Back”