BØRNS Unveils Lush Heartbreak Album ‘Blue Madonna’
It’s difficult to fit pop singer BØRNS into a neat little box, and he probably likes it that way. His retro, androgynous style, his wistful, yet at times playful lyrics and his pop music tendencies which often times border on electronic, indie and even psychedelic; all these unique qualities have made BØRNS into one of the most intriguing pop artists in the modern era. His debut album “Dopamine” saw an undeniable hit in “Electric Love.” Back now with his follow-up “Blue Madonna,” the young Michigander seeks to keep the intrigue coming.
“God Save Our Young Blood” may be his most high-profile single release since the aforementioned “Electric Love.” The track features Lana Del Rey in a very Lana Del Rey way. That is, sexy with splashes of edgy euphemisms. The title track too features Del Rey, and in similar fashion as they cohesively sing lines like “Just wanna make you feel like a virgin” and describing an unnamed lover as “Hotter than a blueberry flame.” The two seem to have found common ground in more ways than one. Not only do they each show affinity for the glamour and allure of days past, and a sort of lyrical adoration for stylized romance, but their vocal preferences fall perfectly atop one another’s – during “Blue Madonna,” they’re voices are nearly indiscernible.
BØRNS’ pension for androgyny, vocal or otherwise, is worth noting. Not only does his falsetto often wrongly deemed as female, but he himself often gets mistaken as the opposite gender. During BØRNS’ set at Bonnaroo ’16, some fans walked away audibly praising “her” performance. His gender-bending fashion choices lend to this as well, as he often paints his nails and sports crop-tops on stage. The single “I Don’t Want U Back” is a good sonic example of why some get confused. Here, his voice inarguably resides in the range of fellow female pop stars. Even the content of the song feels slightly tween-ish. “Don’t wanna see your face, you need to face the facts,” he sings, “I don’t want you back.” Though both sonically and lyrically this tune may feel slightly juvenile – even for a 26-year-old – it fits snuggly within BØRNS’ purview and out came a good track nonetheless.
“Sweet Dreams” picks up where Tame Impala left off with 2015’s “Currents.” Fuzzed-out bass, heavenly synths and spacious drums create a blissful atmosphere yet within the context of heartbreak. “Never thought you would,” he sings, “Take everything we had and loved and leave.” “Supernatural” too looks to reverb and synths, while “Tension” enlists marimba for summertime vibes. Speaking of, “Second Night of the Summer” shows BØRNS’ true vocal abilities alongside retro-futuristic production from Tommy English, his go-to producer and true sonic Svengali on this album – and his debut for that matter.
Closing out “Blue Madonna” is the sincere ballad “Bye-bye Darling” where BØRNS sings aloud his goodbye notes to the things he’ll miss most as he enters the modern age: paperback books, telephone calls and spontaneous encounters on the streets which he calls the “accident age.” Though, of course, none of these things are really going away as he laments in a true romantic’s fashion. All these things are merely being brought into 2018 wrapped in modernity. Like this album, the ideas of a golden-age thinker are only enhanced by stylish production and a fresh, youthful audience.
“Blue Madonna” is available Jan. 12 on Apple Music.