With the four singles he released, the first of which came out almost half a year ago, Michigan-based musician Garrett Børns tried to pique fans’ interests for his upcoming album, Blue Madonna. Upon first listen of the teasing singles, there is nothing too impressive. If anything, the advertisement via vogue aesthetic is really what draws people in. Not to mention his feature with Lana del Rey, whose voice complements his own, attracting members of both fanbases.
Børns loves his vintage vibes, but in this album it can either be a hit or miss. In contrast to his previous record Dopamine that delved into 60’s elements, Blue Madonna experiments with 80s summer licks, 70s ballads, and classic disco tunes. For fans that follow Børns, the 80s classic rock guitar is no surprise since his past tours have featured covers rich in those somewhat cheesy elements. Nevertheless, he doesn’t stray too far from what makes his songs unique: trap beats, breathy melodies, and dance bops. Especially with his explosive choruses, the climax and progression of his songs are pleasing with overlapping ocean waves of bass, synth, and harmonies.
On the other hand, there are some tracks that don’t build up to anything memorable. Though it was a good move to put “God Save Our Young Blood” as the first track with Lana del Rey, the chorus is anti-climactic. “Faded Heart” has a similar problem, and it practically sounds the same throughout the whole song without any meaningful development. Lana is also featured on title track “Blue Madonna,” but maybe the song would have been better if Børns‘ part was removed, and just consisted of Lana’s beautiful, (unfortunately short) ending section.
Not to paint a tainted picture of Blue Madonna, there are a couple of magnificently impressive songs. In comparison, the other tracks seem unoriginal and boring. “Sweet Dreams” delves into a mysterious vibe that Børns has never explored before: dark, steady bass, muted vocals, and echoing instruments. “Iceberg” and “Tension” even break the surface of a new kind of sound: a gritty, deep, pleasing sensation that makes listeners want to listen on repeat. These tracks are about breakups and heartache, a sad message that contradicts his high and romantic first record. Blue Madonna should have had more of these mind-blowing
Børns experiments with instruments more in this album, such as in the sitar sounding summer jive “We Don’t Care” and the eclectic percussions of “Second Night of Summer.” As previously stated, these experiments could be a hit or miss. Sometimes his sounds are very original: impactful and breathtaking. Other times, they could be a corny attempt at modernizing vintage sounds. Save those few spectacular songs, it seems Børns lost his staple charismatic touch.