i_break_horses

Holy smokes! It seems that this Stockholm-based duo of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck has taken a leaf out of their untouchable recent tour mates’ book. Like Icelandic messiahs Sigur Rós, who have carefully honed their ethereal soundscapes across seven rather glorious studio albums without too many dramatic departures, I Break Horses similarly haven’t shape-shifted on sophomore ‘Chiaroscuro’, but rather added a new layer of beguiling depth to their brand of delicate electronica.

The title itself – meaning “light-dark” – sets the tone nicely; ‘You Burn’’s poignant and lingering piano chords sound brooding like NO CEREMONY/// at half speed, while Lindén evokes some sort of elusive Natasha Khan/Del Rey hybrid as she playfully whispers “Baby you burn” in a lazily seductive fashion. Esewhere they’re far less gentle and accessible, like on ‘Faith’, which is bold, cold and hypnotic, starting ominously like mid-90s Underworld, before revealing an insistent, detuned Crystal Castles-like hook. It’s strong, but the duo still seem at their most resonant when they heighten the contrast even more.

Consequently, ‘Weigh True Words’ is the gem here, gliding effortlessly on roaming percussion and glossy synth. Basically, this isn’t light years away from debut ‘Hearts’, but Lindén says all she cared about was ignoring second album pressures, and that plan of attack has made for steady improvement.

dot