Lauer: Borndom
Permanent Vacation

If there's one thing about Borndom that surprises more than any other, it's how fervently it embraces melodic synth-pop as the dominant style. One might have anticipated a slightly more club-oriented focus on Phillip Lauer's album sequel to 2012's Phillips (Running Back), given the Frankfurt-based producer's tenure as a DJ and a background that includes remixes for labels such as Rekids and Spectral, as well as a late-‘90s stint producing deep house tracks. Surprise doesn't mean disappointment, however, and one is quickly won over by the abundant pleasures, melodic and otherwise, Borndom provides.

The hour-long album gleams incandescently from its first moment when “Crewners” serves up waves of synthesizer melodies in a characteristically melodic overture. Even more radiant is “Gammelan,” which bolsters its jubilant spirit and light-footed bounce with wordless vocal treatments and twinkling hooks. Calling Lauer's material infectious is an understatement, to say the least, especially when settings as seductive as “Mausback” and “Carpet” roll into view.

As stated, the album is song-oriented, but it's not without clubby moments as well. Living up to its title, “Hump Acid” digs into its mid-tempo acid-house with gusto, while “Pal_Oh” derives a similarly powerful kick from its horn-powered groove (there's even a faint echo of New Jack Swing in its beat). No fool he, Lauer is aware of how much a guest vocalist can add to a song's impact, and consequently we find the bubbly swing of “Telefon” and “Alright” sweetened by Ela's vocal presence.

Lauer's affection for the music of his youth also surfaces on occasion. “Msndrstndng” roots itself in ‘80s-styled beatsmithing in a way that might remind certain listeners of early hip-hop and breakdancing; by contrast, “ESC” reference ‘80s New Wave and post-punk in its synth-heavy design and Jasnau's cold vocal delivery. With its emphasis on song structures rather than tracks, Borndom shows its creator to be as much pop songwriter as dancefloor producer; it's also one of those hooks-rich albums tailor-made for long road trips with the windows rolled down and the volume way up.

May 2015