I Break Horses : Chiaroscuro
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I Break Horses : Chiaroscuro

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In alignment with the definition of their new albums title (an Italian word for the contrast between light and dark in artwork), Swedish duo I Break Horses have shed some light on the dark shoegaze sound of their debut album, 2011s Hearts. With the emphasis now shifting to smooth, heady synthpop, its the uptempo numbers on Chiaroscuro that grab you on first listen, such as the techno throb of Faith and the instantly accessible Denial.

 

But repeated listens bring the more reflective, less beat-driven songs to the fore; pulsating, atmospheric ballads like Medicine Brush and Disclosure are reminiscent of Goldfrapps seductive debut, Felt Mountain. Beneath all the buzzing synths and scattershot beats are some deceptively simple and direct songs. Its the more expansive numbers that simmer along and explore a sense of space but without much in the way of chiaroscuro contrasting that resonate the most strongly.

 

Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck seem to still be exploring and finding their sound, and the mysterious song titles and lyrics on this record do little to lift the veil on the bands true selves. But theres little thats puzzling about their spare, eloquent fusion of electronic music and dreampop, especially when its cast in pleasingly subtle shades.

 

BY CHRIS GIRDLER 

 

Best Track: Ascension

If You Like These, Youll Like This: Feel It Break AUSTRA, Interiors GLASSER, Felt Mountain GOLDFRAPP

In A Word: Graceful