Los Angeles singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Garret Borns of the band BØRNS has done what very few new artists ever manage. He moved to Los Angeles, found musical kindred spirits almost immediately who helped him home in on his now signature sound, then turned out an insanely addictive debut EP, Candy, that blew up the blogosphere and led to his signing with Interscope records. While his most successful single “Electric Love” played in an aggressively aired Hulu spot, in every Forever 21 and H&M across the country, and on Taylor Swift’s iPhone, Borns toured the globe several times over selling out shows and belting at the top of his joyous falsetto range with a smile on his face. Somewhere in between playing what seems like every festival across the U.S. and Western Europe, he recorded his first full-length studio album, Dopamine, about the chemical connection shared with an apparently tireless team of dream-dwelling muses who inspired the high. Dopamine landed him on the Billboard 200, Top Rock Albums, and Alternative Albums charts peaking at #2.
I appreciate the creative genre labeling BØRNS often gets (ethereal psychedelic electro-funk nu-glam alternative dream pop-rock, and so on). In truth, his image and creative direction are more glam, psychedelic, and alternative than his sound. At its core, Dopamine is simply sweet, classic indie pop, albeit well engineered and written by intelligent formula. The album’s lyrical accessibility might make BØRNS’ music easy to underestimate at first listen, but it also makes it so successful and well received by the independent and mainstream arenas alike. Garrett Borns’ tender voice sometimes likened to the late Jeff Buckley’s, numinous stage presence and childlike essence don’t hurt either. I don’t know many artists who can enrapture radio hosts on both KCRW and KIISFM with unwavering poise, or who have somehow made pop cool enough for the cool kids, and earnest enough to reach the romantics, but BØRNS has achieved it. Oh yeah, all of that took place just outside of a year. You’ll be seeing BØRNS on tour in Australia and again in Europe this winter with another pop phenom, Halsey, then playing Coachella in spring, and, once he’s seasoned in sound, probably at a podium accepting his first Billboard award.