Vinyl love: I Break Horses “Warnings”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: I Break Horses
Album Title: Warnings
Year released: 2020
Details: double LP, clear vinyl, gatefold sleeve

The skinny: I first came across the name I Break Horses back in 2011 and fell for the then-duo’s shoegaze-influenced debut album, “Hearts”. Then, I went to see them as the opening band on M83’s North American tour the following spring. And I Break Horses put on a blistering set, all but showing up the headliners. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as sold on their sophomore release, 2014’s “Chiascuro”, and after that, things were quiet for many years. When I heard tell that Maria Lindén was putting out a new album this year under the I Break Horses moniker, I was cautiously optimistic. When it was released, I gave it a spin on Spotify. I wasn’t even finished one go around (perhaps not even through the opening track featured below) before I was on the Bella Union website ordering this clear vinyl pressing. Yep. So far, “Warnings” is definitely one of my favourite albums of the year.

Standout track: “Turn”

Best tunes of 2011: #11 I Break Horses “Winter beats”

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Shoegaze was a subgenre I loved way back in the day (though I likely joined the train just as it was coming to a skidding and screaming stop) so when I started to hear bands incorporating that sound into their music in the mid- to late-2000s, I got pretty excited. And though I never thought much of the term ‘nugaze’, I definitely latched on to a lot these revivalists, of which I Break Horses is but one fine example.

From what I’ve read, the Swedish duo of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck named themselves after a Bill Callahan/Smog song. Other than that piece of trivia, there’s little else to be found about them, other than the obvious: the names of their two albums, they haven’t released new material in quite a few years, etc. However, I can say that the debut album “Hearts” is a thing of real beauty and around the time it came out, I couldn’t say enough about it. Yeah, I did my damnedest to spread the word. When I got the chance to see them the year following its release, during their tour as support to M83, I jumped at it and tried to convince all of my friends to join me. Unfortunately, this was an uphill task since the majority of my concert-going buddies were going to the same Spiritualized show as I was on the day prior. It was their loss because my second concert in as many nights was just as good as the first.

“Winter beats”, the opening track on “Hearts”, is a thrilling piece of music. It takes the roar and rage of My Bloody Valentine and ups the synth quotient, looping washes and frenetic drum machine crashes, and effects morphed vocals. Oh my. Yes. It is a roaring animal of a thing, flashing strobes, smoke machines, and lasers all over the place, while two silhouettes are up on stage, perhaps one is male and the other female, but you are unsure. Indeed, they are only just barely visible through the smoke and mirrors. You could almost swear the song was conjured up from the ephemera by a machine. Or a ghost. Or an alien.

You could almost swear it might very nearly swallow you up whole. But there are worse fates, I’d wager.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.

Best tunes of 2011: #24 Lykke Li “Love out of lust”

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Lykke Li is the stage name (one based on a derivative of her birth name) of Swedish singer/songwriter Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson. She released her critically acclaimed debut album, “Youth novels”, at 22 years of age, and followed it up with “Wounded rhymes” three years later, an album most have agreed was an improvement on the debut. I really liked both of her first two albums, loving both the quirky and the macabre feel of the tunes, music that traverses a taut tightrope, just this side of pop. With each successive album afterwards, however, it sounds to me like she has fallen victim to the lure of the mighty pop dollar and I’ve liked each of them less to a greater degree.

Her sophomore release, though, was a delight. She went to California to record it, admitting, herself, that she wanted to escape the dreariness of Stockholm winters and find some sunshine. Also, there were journeys to the desert in search of the ghostly channels of her heroes in Jim Morrison and Joni Mitchell. It’s not at all Haight Ashbury or Laurel Canyon, though, still very much keeping to the blueprint of the debut, a percussive and atmospheric canvas for her to paint her childlike, haunting vocals upon.

“Love out of lust” was actually not one of the three singles released off the album but I cannot understand for the life of me why it wasn’t. It’s so freaking beautiful and it’s damned catchy. Lykke Li is pleading her case for love while the world shimmers around her, tribal drummers beating upon large bass toms and gigantic brass gongs and pixies whisper and flit, posing as synthesizers and samples. It is a song for slow dancing in the ephemera.

“We will live longer than I will
We will be better than I was
We can cross rivers with our will
We can do better than I can
So dance while you can
Dance ’cause you must.”

Indeed. Dance because you must.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.