Audio Mixer: Manny Marroquin.
Photographer: Lauren Dukoff.
When the pleasure centers are hit, the brain releases a dose of feel-good dopamine. Naughty behaviors, secret desires, sinful vices. It can be addictive. On Dopamine, his Interscope debut (named after that groovy neurotransmitter), Borns has crafted 11 habit-forming doses of dream pop that slither into all the right spots with a flamboyant blend of glimmering disco, funk, and glam rock. Three songs from his lush debut EP, Candy, make appearances here: the airy, harp-filled "10,000 Emerald Pools"; the shimmery live favorite "Past Lives"; and the huge alt-radio hit of summer 2015, the Gary Glitter stomper "Electric Love." Fans already got a taste of new material when he released the yearning midtempo ballad "The Emotion" and the funky "Fool" as an online, pre-release amuse-bouche. The latter is a huge disco jam, complete with a flurry of handclaps and cooing "ah-ahh"s, which is indicative of the overall album. Owing in large part to childhood influence Earth, Wind & Fire, Dopamine brims with funky '70s R&B and disco charm. Borns' gorgeous falsetto and breathless delivery add a slinky sexuality to each track, especially on "Dug My Heart" -- which contains an odd dubstep gurgle ("dub" my heart?) that sounds jacked from Muse's "Madness" -- and "American Money," a spaced-out slow jam reminiscent of a Lana Del Rey tune slathered over OneRepublic. Everything here is coated thick with honey. Elsewhere, his other influences come to the party, with tastes of Led Zeppelin (a little "D'yer Mak'er" on the slow-burning "Clouds") and the Bee Gees (on both the funky-as-hell, MGMT-lite title track and the digital stank of "Holy Ghost"). All these influences might make it sound like he's stuck in the '70s, but the impeccable production quality sticks him firmly in the 2010s. Listeners will be rewarded with a nice hit of feel-good vibes, which may leave them lusting for more. With the voice of an angel, Borns is set to blow up big with Dopamine. Baby, he's like lightning in a bottle. ~ Neil Z. Yeung