I Break Horses – Hearts

By • Aug 18th, 2011 • Category: Album Reviews

I Break Horses - Hearts

Bella Union, 2011
★★★★★★★½☆☆

What’s a veteran shoegazer to do? I once worshipped in the nave of those archetypal cathedrals of sound which emanated from Cocteau Twins in the 1980s and Ride and Slowdive in the early 1990s. Walls of sound and fuzzy guitars inspired much head swaying moments at the local indie disco and the mutual wallowing in the soundscapes brought me many an innocent snog. So what is Scandinavian siren Maria Lindén and her musical partner Fredrik Balck thinking? How dare I Break Horses remind me of my lost youth!

I Break Horses may transport some back to patchouli scented days when life was no harder than a sociology essay. It’s such an authentic return to the effects pedal past. This smouldering ember begins with the pulsing glow of recent single Winter Beats. A hynotic keyboard hook penetrates the fuzz whilst Lindén makes fine attempts to compete with the thick, foggy sound.

The shoegaze rennaisance has had more false dawns than the economy but these Swedes have made a strong bid for dominance over compatriots Sad Day For Puppets and others like School For Seven Bells. Maria Lindén is simply more floaty and other worldly and the music more mesmerising than their rivals on the scene. The title track fizzes like a catherine wheel before Lindén envelopes it in her vocal which effectively adds an extra layer of instrumentation to the mix. Everything comes together within the swirling psychedelia which completely overtakes “Wired” and trips you out before the headfuck outro that frankly ought to carry a health warning.

Yes there are strands to Hearts which nod to Liz Fraser and the Cocteau Twins sound. Most notably on the serene “I Kill Your Love, Baby!” which begins with a heartbeat before a steady rise of church inspired chimes and angelic voices complete a woozy ambience. “Cancer” could also comfortably squeeze on to Treasure. Yet there’s enough substance to I Break Horses to make them more than just a nostalgic pastiche of an ethereal past. Perhaps it’s time a new generation started staring at the floor. A most majestic fuzz.

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