Thursday, January 23, 2014

REVIEW: I Break Horses - Chiaroscuro

Swedish duo Maria Linden and Fredrik Balck impressed many with their 2011 debut Hearts.  Featuring Linden's appealing vocals and a skillful balance of warm textures and super-chilled electronics, it left I Break Horses with a rather high bar to clear with their sophomore release.  And with Chiaroscuro now released, it seems to me that they got it just right.  What they did well on the first album still provides the sturdy platform for their work, but they have become more adventuresome in the use of electronics and the structure of the songs, and at least not singularly focused on dark themes.  Some of the sonic haze has been sharpened, making the melodies and beats more compelling.  And there is confidence on display in how they let the tracks unwind in a more leisurely fashion.

The tracks below, "Faith", "Denial", and "You Burn" probably are the standout songs.  And they leave no doubt that the band can deliver danceable music with a level of depth and texture not often encountered in a club.  However, it is worth noting that the other tracks yield little to these three in quality.  And while the beats are infectious, my preferred use for this album is late at night with the lights low and the sound turned up.  Chiaroscuro ably proves that I Break Horses is a premier electro-pop band.  But unlike the other worthy bands on the top shelf of the genre, I Break Horses has a vocalist capable of adding the correct degree of warmth, and the appropriate level of emotion, needed to give a song the additional dimension required to leave a long-lasting impression.

Chiaroscuro is out now via Bella Union.

I Break Horses will be touring in the US this spring.

Bella Union

No comments: