By Cody Morgan
On August 22nd, Sweden’s Maria Lindén and Fredrick Balck released their debut album Heart under the name I Break Horses. While the band’s name comes from the title of a song by Smog, I Break Horses sounds more like Jesus and Mary Chain than Bill Callahan. The entire album echoes with the noisy influence of My Bloody Valentine and the reverb-laden vocals that define the shoegaze subgenre of the late 80’s. However, this is shoegaze for 2011 where electronic tones take the place of over-distorted guitars.
The opening track “Winter Beats” begins with a cycling keyboard phrase that refuses to die, pushing its way past the end of the song and bleeding into the album’s second track. This undying riff primes the listener for the rest of the album. Heart is both noisy and delicate, both hazy and sharp; its flaming synth lines are repeatedly pierced by 8-bit tones. While the album’s title track, “Heart” has been available as a 12” single since July, it benefits from well thought out placement, emerging out of the noise of “Winter Beats.” Like the cycling notes of “Winter Beats,” Heart is an album that morphs and fades (especially after “Wires”), but it never gives up.
As the album progresses, the sound is gradually stripped and opened up. By the seventh track, “Load Your Eyes,” the buzzsaw synth is softened until it is no longer a blaze of emotion but a warm, comforting glow. “Winter Beats” and “Heart” are instant attention grabbers that demand airplay, but “Cancer” and “Empty Bottles” are more nuanced tracks that reward repeated listenings. From its sweeping, airy vocals to its blaring, buzzing synth-lines, Heart is a relentless flow of emotion; it’s the grainy footage of your adolescent memories and failed relationships replayed in fast-forward.