Mix Review: I Break Horses – Warnings

Swedish band, I Break Horses have released their first album in six years, called Warnings (Bella Union). This album acts as a soundtrack to our difficult times.
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Swedish band, I Break Horses have released their first album in six years, called Warnings (Bella Union). Acting as a soundtrack to our difficult times, Maria Lindén and Frederik Balck reached for lengthier songs in reaction to our short attention span, and the proliferation of shorter songs. Lindén hopes we’ll slow down and take these songs in. The new full-length clocks in at fifty-five minutes, with five of twelve tracks being longer than five minutes, and three short instrumentals. The opening track, Turn, is nine minutes flat. But these songs are so good you forget about time.

According to Bandcamp, Maria Lindén, “watched a collection of favorite films on her computer (sound muted) and made her own soundtrack sketches.” It was through this creative process that she eventually realized she was making a new I Break Horses album. It wasn’t her initial intention.

The way Warnings is mixed gives it a dark dream pop sound: The repeated delay feeding into a dark vocal plate. The crunching kick. The lyrics that lend to a dark feel. The atmospheric layering of synths.

She states that the songs, “relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.” If we were to create a soundtrack to these times we live in, this album would match the motions and movements of today’s film very well.

Chris Coady‘s mixing on this album is really interesting (you’ve heard his work with Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Blonde Redhead, and Slowdive). The songs are comprised of layers of synth, live percussion and samples, bass, and vocals; electric guitars do not make an appearance. The synths are so dreamy and drenched in reverb, as are her vocals. Three tracks are short instrumentals. l a r m has a synth that is slowed down, with percussion and sounds placed on top of it. d e n l i l l a p å s e a v l y c k a also has someone speaking in Swedish, layered on top of a slowed synth. These short instrumentals provide a nice transition between track segments.

I Break Horses – “I’ll Be The Death Of You” (YouTube)

I’ll Be The Death Of You is immediately likable. It has a late `80s sound with pop sensitivities, synth candy and shifting frequency oscillation. The compressed trumpets at the end sound so nice.  Neon Lights is carried by a bright synth step sequence that is quite enjoyable. The sampled drums give the song such a drive and intensity as it locks in with the synth sequence so well. I Live At Night feels like it could lay on top of a dystopian sci-fi film. The picked bass line stands out so strongly since you don’t the electric guitar doesn’t appear on this album. 

I Break Horses – “Death Enginer” (YouTube)

I suspect Lindén is trying to get away from having a collection of songs that stand apart, but I must say Death Engine is my favorite song on the album. It was the track she broke her six year silence with. The synths are incredible, creating the greatest sonic depth on Warnings. It’s the apex of an album you won’t want to miss.

(Listen to I Break Horses on Puddlegum Mixtape: tape five.)

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Kevin Flick
Kevin Flick

Kevin Flick founded Puddlegum in 1997 and has been engaging in music journalism off and on since. He's also a recording/mixing engineer and loves to help bands work through the creative process. He has coproduced and mixed for artists such as Saeyers, Midi Memory, and Cathedral Bells.

Rumors are that he's a Brighton Hove & Albion FC fan. He's also obsessed with coffee. Kevin resides in the college community of Bloomington, Indiana, where he studied at Indiana University.

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