I Break Horses - Chiaroscuro

As Maria Linden whisper-sings through this follow up to 2011’s Hearts, she immerses the listener in an oddly comforting abyss of murmuring, womb-like bliss. Chiaroscuro both flutters and pounds and it transcends Hearts by some distance. Linden and Fredrik Balck have clearly spent the intervening years learning, experimenting… improving, and aiming for this, their perfect sound. This second offering from Sweden's I Break Horses both builds and diminishes, hypnotically contrasting light with dark as its title promises.

Peel away the layers of 'Medicin Brush' or 'You Burn' and the Cocteaus/Portishead influences continue to evidence themselves. Dismiss those disparaging shoegaze references; Linden and Balck are utterly invested and absorbed in their developing musicianship. Linden has described herself as solitary, and that’s a notion that runs throughout. There is a sense of the lone scientist measuring, checking, and tweaking the potion before allowing their bubbling creation to leave the lab. 'Ascension' and 'Denial' are mesmeric testament to this. They hook you, ensuring one hit is not enough. Chiaroscuro is a heady, synthetic cocktail mixed to lull and intrigue. Like a glug-of-bourbon burn, every track resonates long after it has finished and leaves you thirsty for the next shot. “Lay down”, Linden beckons. There is little alternative other than to obey.

Overall

7

out of 10

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