At last its release day for ‘Hearts’ the debut album from I Break Horses. Sadly my local HMV didn’t take delivery so I’m going to hit the Bella Union shop and order my copy now. Support independent labels and new artists by putting your hand in your pocket once in a while.
I would also like to thank Maria & Fredrik for their incidental sign post to Smog. I like a bit of lo-fi and everything I’ve heard so far works well. Some of albums are like finding 40mins of Sparklehorse ballads which can only be a good thing.
So, listen to the doctor, prescribe yourself some ‘Hearts’ and in the mean time listen to the wonderful and sparkly ‘Winter Beats’ whilst you read the review below.
REVIEW ~ HEARTS ~ I BREAK HORSES
About a month ago I posted some comment and links to a new band called I Break Horses. The band is currently getting some really good reviews for their forthcoming debut album ‘Hearts’.
I was very fortunate earlier this week to hear a pre-release of the album and it really is a beautiful thing. So before I move on, here is a track not on the album called ‘Good Bye Sweet Dreams’.
This track appeared on a compilation album ‘The Psychedelic Sounds of the Sonic Cathedral’. It’s a typically dense musical background with ethereal vocals, in this case fairly clear in lyrical content. A good early song and a nice place to start. The song is a cover of a Roky Erikson song but I can’t tell you much more than that.
A little over a month ago the track ‘Hearts’ was released with a lot of great reviews. There are many references to influences including Curve, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and of course the incredible Cocteau Twins. Here is the video for ‘Hearts’ again. Turn this up…..
‘Hearts’ is definitely one of the stand out tracks on the album but I was pleased to find that it’s not indicative of every track. Previously I made a reference to ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ the Godfrey Reggio film based around the musical piece by Phillip Glass. The structure of the music throughout the album reminds me of both Glass and Micheal Nyman. The elements of repetition, twinkling arpeggios, euphoric risings. A few reviews have used shoegazing as an adjective for the music but I would go with stargazing. Not unlike their label mates Explosions In The Sky, I Break Horses make music that lifts you up above the mundane. I don’t deny that the pushed into the mix vocals make this a more instrumental album in the manner of the Cocteau Twins, but in the same way the vocal, in this case by Maria Lindén, is a beautiful instrument. On initial listening I have absolutely no idea what any of the songs are about but this is more to do with my ability to give the music the attention it craves than it is an issue with production.
So what will you get for your money when you buy this album (which you need to do).
Well, before you start here is a quick biography. READ HERE then come back…….
So there you go. Swedish, young and according to another review both chronic hypochondriacs, that probably explains the song titles.
We have Cancer, Empty Bottles, Hearts, I Kill Love, Load Your Eyes, Pulse, Winter Beats & Wired. Eight great tracks, each with its own life & character. I was a little surprised by the range here. ‘Hearts’ isn’t indicative. There are tracks here like Pulse and Wired which are so close to synth / electro / pop that with a superficial remix they could chart (not a recommendation, but an indication that these really are songs and not just grand gesture soundscapes).
One thing I have found out today is that these songs make for great travelling music. They have pace. They let the sunshine in, they drown out the words in your head. Suddenly you get somewhere and no time has passed.
I had a lot of references in my head earlier. Many from a little while in to my musical past. Being of a certain age I think I may have been riffing on the Cocteau Twins, but in the more pop arena how about considering Shriekback, Furniture (anyone remember ‘Brilliant Mind’?? – Load Your Eyes hits here…) or even Danse Society (strangely expensive on iTunes – Ok, not very pop but ….pppffttt …sue me). But I Break Horse are not a retro band. They are beautiful, conscientious, layered, thoughtful couple of musicians who have made a wonderful soundtrack for now.
One of the best things I have heard in a long time and it takes a lot to get me off my OCD back catalogue play lists. The album is released on the 30th of August but I hope the tracks above give you a lead into what to expect.
To close this, here is the song ‘Wired’ from Soundcloud, opens in a new Window, so if you don’t make back, thanks for getting this far…..
My apologies to the word ‘beautiful’ for wearing it out……but it really is….beautiful….
The wonderful I Break Horses album is still a little while away but here is the Tom Rowland REMIX of Hearts. Volume does it justice. I drive faster when this comes on!
Hearts is out now on vinyl from the Bella Union shop here and on iTunes. You need to get behind the Mule.
The opening track from the album is Winter Beats and you are so lucky because you can hear that little piece of sonic perfection here.
The debut album is available on the 15th of August from the Bella Union shop.