Album Review: I Break Horses – Chiaroscuro

chiaroscuro-i-break-horsesI still remember the first time I listened to the song “Winter Beats” by Swedish dream-pop band I Break Horses; I was only just discovering indie music then and its icy, synth-driven cascade of wondrous, winterland sound was a formative catalyst for me, fueling a growing passion for new sound and reminding me just how infinite the possibilities of music truly were. As the follow-up to their 2011 debut album, Chiaroscuro undoubtedly cannot carry the same inventive weight of “Winter Beats,” but nonetheless it impresses with the strength of its diligent craft, weaving a desolate womb of fragility and delicacy that over the course of forty-five minutes.

“You Burn” is the album’s opener and its strongest track. As sundering piano-chords echo across deep spaces, the ponderous progression of slow, smoky vocals evoke the melancholic yearning typical of a Lana Del Ray track and confirms that our Scandinavian-duo have not yet succumbed to any sophomore slumps. The next strongest melodic work is probably “Denial,” which sees the lush, mysterious peregrinations of its hushed vocals give way to a momentous landslide of howling synths. Wedged between these works is the jittery and fascinating “Faith”, where tessellating echoes scamper across a club-style beat and a hush-crush of hazy vocals upends the melodic tendrils of a dark dream.

Chiaroscuro comes from a term in art relating to the interplay of light and dark on a canvas. Similarly, the contrast is plenty present on the album, arising foremost in the track “Berceuse,” where our dreamscape veers away from pop-melodies in favor of dark beats and barren soundscapes pierced by glitchy samples, to be saved from complete desolation only by the occasional spray of shimmering synths. An intensely cinematic intro steers the forlorn fragility of “Medicine Brush” into a suspenseful swarm of off-colour haze. Albeit this darker, latter half of the album loses some of its momentum; “Disclosure” feels like a compilation of previous tracks and “Heart to Know” is the token ambient out-track that is wholly unengaging at eight minutes. There is a sporadic confusion to “Weight True Words,” though it carries a rewarding surprise a minute and a half-in. But for the most part, Chiaroscuro still carries a good portion of the “Winter Beats” magic, that essence of the unheard, and this is a blessing as far as modern music goes.

About author
Christopher Witte is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA, afflicted with an unhealthy obsession for independent genres of music.   Follow: @WittePopPress

Pop Press International © 2018 All Rights Reserved

All photos licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress