Review: BØRNS – “Dopamine”

BØRNS debut album, DopamineReview by Ellie Garno

“Wanna feel that stream of dopamine,” sings BØRNS in “Dopamine.”  If the lyric ended in “?” then the answer might be to listen to the debut album from the 23-year-old (“!”) singer-songwriter, for Dopamine  is a pure dose of happiness.

Garrett Borns started out in the suburbs of Michigan, doing magic, winning a National Scholastic Art Award, and playing the ukulele at a TEDX event.  Soon after, Borns became BØRNS, the Taylor Swift-endorsed indie pop star.  BØRNS spent the past year touring with artists like MisterWives, Charli XCX, and Bleachers, and playing festivals, most recently Austin City Limits.  Dopamine, which was released last week on Interscope Records (BØRNS was discovered by the label at an open mic event in Los Angeles), borrows tracks “Electric Love,” “10,000 Emerald Pools,” and “Past Lives” from EP Candy.

Dopamine opens with an oldie, but goodie: “10,000 Emerald Pools.”  In the first track, especially, BØRNS shows off his rad androgynous voice (think Mika’s “Under the Sea”).  While the upper register is very au courant for males in indie pop, BØRNS does it better, frankly, and with seemingly less effort.  You’ve heard “Electric Love” (Late Night with Seth Meyers, a commercial for Hulu), but not enough.  Confidence—not to mention all sorts of synths—makes bubblegum lyrics (literally, “She’s sweet like candy in my veins”) too cool.  Title track, “Dopamine” and SoCal anthem “American Money” are among other, newer standouts on Dopamine.

You’re just going to have to listen yourself.  But remember—it’s chemical.

Rating: 4/5
Recommended Tracks: “10,000 Emerald Pools,” “Electric Love”

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