I Break Horses – Warnings


The new record from I Break Horses was always going to be a challenge and you’re right to ask the question, “Will it be a worthy successor to 2014’s Chiaroscuro?”. Here we are, six interminable years later, with the Swedish Shoegazers now ready to step out of the frost and into the light. A lot has changed in that time. Even The Guardian are eager for this album.

Fear not, for you won’t be disappointed. Opener, ‘Turn’, is a nine-minute epic best described as a slow-burning encounter that displays the first obvious characteristic of the new album – change. The sound here is evolving, regenerating and creating something much more than Chiaroscuro. Indeed, Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck are in a cinematic frame of mind, focusing more on songs as instrumental concepts rather than verse-chorus structures – something we welcome and love here at Scream Blast Repeat. Lindén said herself how she watched ‘a collection of favourite films on her computer (sound muted)’ and made her own ‘soundtrack sketches.’ You can feel this beginning to happen here.

The first song is a hard act to follow, but the momentum never fades. Track four, ‘I’ll Be The Death Of You’, is a sickly sweet number with sour undertones of love. The questions are paradoxical; why is love so euphoric yet so distressing? Lindén and Balck display a more modern edge to the standard Indie vibe here, with shades of trance-inducing Shoegaze, not dissimilar to the likes of The Horrors or even Ride.

Variety is the key to this album’s allure. ‘denlillapaseavlycka’ is an instrumental stop gap that would be a great score to accompany a Gaspar Noé or Nicolas Winding Refn film. ‘Neon Lights’ has beautiful tones of Shoegaze songwriter and vocalist Tamaryn at her very best. Though a throwback to the good eighties stuff, it never descends into nostalgia. The beat is enchanting in its monotony, but in a good way. 

Latest single, ‘Death Engine’ is deeply atmospheric in its flirtation with dark tones. Imagine running your finger over the sharp outline of a knife as you contemplate the future with maudlin anxiety. We’ve all done it and feared the abyss. ‘Baby You Have Travelled For Miles Without Love In Your Eyes’ carries on the slow darkwave tones, but it’s now obvious the band have slowed the tempo from previous albums. This gives you a better experience and more time to digest the layers and structures. The voices in your head will say “Be immersed, child,” like a paternal alter ego.

Warnings is without doubt ambitious. Slow and delicate in its nature, it’ll suck you in with its mystical atmospherics. Think the Avant Garde flirtations of classic Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Creatures with the DNA of This Mortal Coil. It can be uplifting, but dark and brooding at the same time.

There’s no doubt it’s been an eventful journey since their 2011 debut album, Hearts. The good news is that journey has evolved into something beautiful and most welcome to the ears of the initiated. It should also entrance those not yet acquainted with their music. This is a sumptuous album of sophisticated brilliance.

OW


Verdict


Release Date: 08/05/2020

Record Label: Bella Union

Standout tracks: The Prophet, Neon Lights, I’ll Be The Death Of You

Suggested Further Listening: Tamaryn – Cranekiss (2015), This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears (1984), The Horrors – Luminous (2014)