I Break Horses – Hearts (Bella Union)

August 22, 2011 by  

So apparently shoegaze is the comeback genre of 2011, or should I say ‘nu-gaze’. With the Horrors finding commercial success channelling their inner shoegaze on their latest album ‘Skying’ and M83 releasing a new album in the autumn, being a nu-gaze band on the way up is a pretty good place to be right now. This means bands like Team Ghost, School of Seven Bells and Swedish new comers I Break Horses are battling for the cowl of ‘nu-gaze one to watch’. Unfortunately for the first two acts, its going to take something very special to top ‘Hearts’ from this Stockholm based duo.

There’s something so romantic about ‘Hearts’, but not romantic in a soppy way. Soppy or any of its connotations would not be used when describing any track on this album. It has more of an icy cool romanticism that would be displayed in an art-house indie film. The titled track ‘Hearts’ is the style of song that you would picture being at the end of a Gus Van Sant or Sofia Coppola movie, it has a slow and oddly cheerful atmospheric build up with a ‘heart beat’ thumping through the intro. The fuzzy synth joins half way through without clattering into the dreamy tone of the track. Its one of the most ethereal tunes you’ll hear all year.

It may seem like Maria Linden’s vocals are hidden under the swooshing sounds, as on occasions you barely hear what she is singing. However like the track ‘I Kill Your Love, Baby’ all she needs to do is sing one line to make a song so majestic and moving. It’s very similar to title track ‘Hearts’ with the long airy intro, then every instruments sound just falls down upon your ears all at once halfway through the song like a sonic waterfall. This doesn’t mean to say every track on ‘Hearts’ is like this though, there are a couple of songs that wander into commercial territory like album opener ‘Winter Beats’ and ‘Pulse’.

It’s the epic scale of these songs that make this album so impressive. Every track feels so big that you start to think Linden’s vocals may get lost in the endless sonic landscape of the album, trapped somewhere between the hum of distortion and the glittering chimes. This never happens. Her vocals are just as prominent as the dramatic backdrop of sounds created by her partner in crime Fredrik Balk.

‘Hearts’ is a joy of a listen that you don’t want to let go, its captivating, gorgeous and even film-like
at times. Its true love on a record.

[rating:4.5]


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