I Break Horses’s debut record, Hearts, was one of the best records of 2011. It frequently appeared on end of year lists around the globe, and the dark electronic pop music which seeped through the veins of the album produced unforgettable live shows. Maria Lindon and company have spent over two years perfecting the follow up, the much anticipated and beautifully titled Chiaroscuro. The title is an Italian word, describing the concept of contrasts between light and dark, and listening to the record, it couldn’t be more appropriately named.
Chiaroscuro is in some ways darker and more cluttered than Hearts, yet at moments it shows more light, more space and more minimalism in the production. Opening track ‘You Burn’ is one of these moments of simplicity. It opens the album at a slower pace than many of the tracks which follow it. Leading on from ‘You Burn’, ‘Faith’ is far heavier, and the soundscape which it creates is epic, cluttered and somewhat distracting from the song itself. The rest of the record continues in such fashion, with tracks which are simpler side by side with the grandness of tracks like record highlight Denial. Seven-minute long Medicine Man produces a very special moment in the record, and provides the best balance between the two shades of the album.
In all it’s boldness, this is an excellent follow-up to Hearts, yet it somehow doesn’t reach the same dizzy heights as the debut. It shows development though, and an exciting one, towards a sound rooted in the more industrious and gothic.
Words: Anna Mellor