In January of 2014, the Swedish synth outfit I Break Horses released their sophomore album, Chiaroscuro. Though I Break Horses had already garnered some praise for their shoegaze-indebted debut Hearts, Chiaroscuro was even more exciting — in songs like “Faith” and “Ascension,” they crashed shoegaze and dream-pop and synth-pop together in dense, psychedelic electronic soundscapes. If those kinds of sounds work on you, it was a gorgeous album. And then, aside from unexpectedly popping up on a highlight from Lushlife’s 2016 album Ritualize called “The Waking World,” I Break Horses sort of disappeared for the second half of the decade.
Well, it turns out Maria Lindén was still working on I Break Horses music, albeit in a slower-burn approach. After Chiaroscuro, she wanted to force herself to write differently; she began watching her favorite movies on mute, writing her own sounds to them. It kicked off what sounds like quite a process to finish another album. “It has been some time in the making,” Lindén explains in a press release. “About five years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home… ”
All those twists and turns led Lindén to the new I Break Horses album, Warnings, which will be out on Bella Union in May. And for anyone who knows I Break Horses’ past material, you could probably already imagine something transfixing but foreboding in the title Warnings. “It’s not a political album, though it relates to the alarmist times we live in,” says Lindén. “Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.”
Along with the announcement, I Break Horses have shared a new single called “Death Engine.” Lindén wrote that the song was composed “in connection to a close friend’s suicide attempt, [and] also reflects upon the increasing reports that suicide is the Gen Z second leading cause of death, with the group having more mental health issues than any other generation.”
Musically, “Death Engine” is a heavy, moving reintroduction to I Break Horses. It’s a sprawling six minute track, Lindén first singing a melody that feels like a classic ’80s pop song, but one drenched in all this contemporary digital haze. There are huge synth breaks by way of a chorus, and eventually the whole thing drifts out into instrumental passages that, given the inspiration of the song, feel like they are reaching out to comfort someone. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a new I Break Horses song. “Death Engine” is a beautiful thing after that wait. Check it out below.
03 “l a r m”
04 “I’ll Be The Death Of You”
05 “d e n lilla p a s e avlycka”
06 “The Prophet”
07 “Neon Lights”
08 “I Live At Night”
09 “Baby You Have Travelled For Miles Without Love In Your Eyes”
10 “Death Engine”
11 “a b s o l u t a m o l l p u n k t e n”
12 “Depression Tourist”
Warnings is out 5/8 via Bella Union. Pre-order it here.