Combining the lush sensibilities of shoegaze with the remote grandeur of synth pop, Sweden's I Break Horses make a compelling hybrid that's powered by the strong and often-mysterious vocals of Maria Lindén.
The group started out with the guitar overload of My Bloody Valentine as their main influence on 2011's Hearts, then incorporated synthesizers on 2014's Chiaroscuro, and after a long hiatus returned in 2020 with Warnings, an album that blended dream pop and synth pop with a sweeping, slowly unspooling grandeur.
Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maria Lindén and lyricist Fredrik Balck met in 2008 under unusual circumstances: both self-professed hypochondriacs, they regularly visited the same online medical forum and discovered they shared musical tastes. They decided to work together and for the next three years, the pair gathered ideas and recorded their debut record. With Lindén taking care of the bulk of the music and singing, and Balck contributing the lyrics, Hearts was released on Bella Union in 2011. It was heavily influenced by My Bloody Valentine's Loveless on a sonic level, while the lyrics saw them thematically addressing the fragility of life. After the success of their debut, the group, bolstered by additional members, toured the U.S. as the support act for M83 in 2012, then toured Europe with Sigur Rós in 2013. It was during the latter that Lindén had a breakthrough that allowed her to sideline the near-crippling stage fright that made playing shows difficult.
Work began on their second release the following year and the resulting album, the darker and more emotionally gripping Chiaroscuro, was released in early 2014. As with the debut, the record was recorded and produced by Lindén, with Balck providing lyrical ideas and the duo finishing the songs together. This time however, synthesizers played a larger role in the arrangements and guitars were nearly non-existent. Following the promotional cycle surrounding the record, Lindén devoted herself to coming up with a different sound for the band. The process was slow and painstaking, involving crashed hard drives, different studios and collaborations that didn't work. Eventually Lindén ended up working at home by herself and crafted a lush, cinematic-feeling record that has shoegaze in its DNA while also crossing over into modern pop sounds at times. Mixed by Chris Coady, whom Lindén hired thanks to his skills at working with lush music like Beach House, Warnings was released in May of 2020. ~ Tim Sendra & Chrysta Cherrie, Rovi