By: Derek Jung
Michigan native Garrett Borns, better known these days by his stage name BØRNS, burst onto the scene this year with the smash hit single "Electric Love". After appearing in commercials, TV shows, and even declared an instant classic by T. Swift, fans all around the world eagerly anticipated the debut full length release to follow one of the biggest songs of the summer. Well, Dopamine finally arrived this past week, and what we got was a hit and miss collection of songs that, while showing off Borns' vocal range, fail to continue the magic of the lead single.
With a wide vocal range, Borns has a lot to work with in the raw talent department. My biggest concern going into the album was songwriting, and from what I heard, it sounds like my concerns were well placed. While it's hard to follow a lead single like "Electric Love", no other song on the album even comes close to its catchiness and repeatability. Lyrically, some of the songs are almost eyerollably cliche; on "Past Lives" Borns swoons that "our love is deeper than oceans of water".
"American Money" could have been a cut from Lorde's Pure Heroine and "Dopamine" sounds like a Passion Pit chorus, and honestly I think both of them could have done it better. Musically, the album has a lot of potential, and there's no doubt that there are some great ideas here, but I felt like many of them were either poorly executed or fell flat because they failed to keep my attention.
I can imagine Borns being a very energetic, entertaining frontman live. His songs hint at the charisma of a lifelong performer (as a teenager, he performed in restaurants as a magician), which I imagine would translate well to the live stage, but the album mostly fails to capture and translate that magic to recorded form. There are some bright spots. "The Emotion" is an upliftingly catchy track with a killer vocal line in the chorus and "10,000 Emerald Pools", is a slow churning opener with a pleasant chorus and another good vocal performance by Borns.
That being said, at times this album comes off as a mediocre Maroon 5 impression. There's so much more to an album than its singles, and BØRNS just doesn't deliver the meat. Instead, while we all enjoyed the initial shock of "Electric Love" this summer, we are feeling the crash now.
My Number: 4/10
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here.