I Break Horses – Album Review
This month sees the release of Hearts, the first offering from Swedish duo Maria Lindén and her cohort Fredrik Balck, which is released on the Pachinko records imprint here in Japan. Hearts is a beacon amongst the throng of bands collectively lumped into the newly defined genre of ‘nu-gaze’.
From the opening bars of the first track, “Winter Beats”, the instant comparison I made was with fellow luminary, Maps. Like James Chapman, Maria and Frederik focus on ethereal layering and crescendos to build the songs in intensity, before letting them float off into the void.
Moving into the middle third of the album this gives way to a dark minimalism in tracks like “Pulse” akin to what you may expect from bands like The XX – Maria’s Vocals every bit as haunting as Romy Madley-Croft’s.
Continuing to shift the focus of the songs, the end of the album gives a nod to the great shoegaze acts of the 1980s. The stuttering drum machine kick of “Load your Eyes” oozes retro charm.
This is not an album to instantly ignite your passions, it is an album which slowly envelops you. The intensity of the songs will grow as we cascade into the cold winter nights; the luscious synths sparkling and crunching like snow.
Hearts by I Break Horses is out now on Pachinko Records
Words: Mark Birtles
Translation: Asuka Ozutsumi