I Break Horses

Hearts

I Kill Love/Cooperative Music/Downtown

Aug 15, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent Bookmark and Share


Swedish duo I Break Horses (Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck) take their cues from shoegaze greats, at times sounding like the younger siblings of Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, and Ride. But far from a promising, yet diminutive relativesimply aping their older family members' accomplishmentsthe band owns their influences on every track of their impressive debut album.

The Stockholm duo's expansive soundscapes seemingly pulse with life; every corner filled with the glorious noise of crashing guitars and layered synths, topped with Lindén's dreamy soprano that sometimes approaches near Cocteau Twins-level abstraction. Although a member of the shoegaze club, I Break Horses aim forand inevitably succeedat creating the kind of all-encompassing    crescendos that Sigur Rós chase with every release. Given that, it would be easy to lean on the kind of language usually used to describe fairies (beautiful, surreal, otherworldly, et al.)if it weren't for tracks such as "Winter Beats," whose keys, strings, and percussion is plunked, strummed, and whacked hard enough to chase the adjective "ethereal" right out of the room.  

Also throwing an additional layer of grit across the album is the running obsession with human fragilitya very real concern for the two self-admitted hypochondriacs. Both "Cancer" and "Pulse" play with ideas of life and death. It's a theme that peeks its head through the layers on other tracks as well. Like a sonic inside joke, both "I Kill Your Love, Baby!" and "Load Your Eyes" feature a steady, near pulse-like beat.

Title track "Hearts" takes the formula to its apex, painting with the same brush as The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey"its slow building synths and haze of guitar are tailor-made to indicate cinematic levels of introspection. (Sofia Coppola, take note.) However, separating out a single track is an exercise in futility. Hearts is an album-lover's albumnine meticulously constructed, knockout tracks, lacking both filler and repetition. Easily one of the best debutsand possibly one of the best albumsof the year. (www.ibreakhorses.se)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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clarisse spader
August 20th 2011
10:50am

amazing, just listened on stream and gonna buy the gorgeous looking Vaughan Oliver-designed sleeve on vinyl now! this album is like the soundtrack to my year already. so huge and cinematic.