I Break Horses at Lincoln Hall | Concert preview
The Swedish duo carries the torch for all the dreaminess and studio geekery of early-’90s shoegaze.
Shoegaze was once a derisive term for British bands that played loud but seemed better at relating to stomp boxes than to their mop-topped fans. But like Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, it wasn’t the wall that fans prayed to in the hazy, passive-aggressive genre. It was the songs and melodies sandwiched in among those loud guitars.
I Break Horses, a Stockholm duo of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck, might have a name that references a sparse Smog tune, but the band works comfortably in the established shoegaze tradition. Even its pace is painstaking, not unlike the studio-time-hungry My Bloody Valentine. The band’s debut album, Hearts, was three full years in the making. Programmed beats interweave with atmospheric keyboards and tidal waves of guitar. These tamer Horses are fond of arpeggiated organs, piling them on the dense and driving “Load Your Eyes.”
Much of Hearts sounds as if Lindén were trapped in a moon crater, her voice echoing as Balck records it from a lunar module stuffed with vintage Jupiter synths. Consider that the two share a label, Bella Union, with Beach House and you’ll realize I Break Horses could be its upbeat stylistic cousin.
The Swedes have gotten a nice foothold in the States thanks to a tour with bombastic, ’80s-loving soulmate M83. But the band still faces as big a challenge as those early ’90s shoegazers—standing out in a continuing glut of another name, chillwave.