Review: I Break Horses – Chiaroscuro (2014)

By Ryan G


If Stevie Nicks reincarnated Fleetwood Mac 200 years from now, you might get something like I Break Horses. Now, I probably need to brace myself for the reaction from people that will think my opening comment of this review is some sort of musical sacrilege.

While IBH vocalist might not have the complete vocal chops of Nicks, the comparison is undeniable. A more forgivable comparison might be to Beach House’s Victoria Legrand. The music of Chiaroscuro is just as ethereal, yet more intense.

The past five years have churned out quality act after act that falls under this same umbrella of dark, slightly poppy dreamy electronica fronted by female vocalists. You would think the trend would be tired by now but it isn’t. New wave-y tracks make appearances in additions to the more predictable electro alt-pop stuff – such as early album highlight “Ascension.” In contrast you have an epic track “Medicine Brush” which doubly functions as an interlude of sorts and a song that ultimately musically paints a story, rather than a traditional song structure. For you alternative snobs out there, a recent comparison you might be familiar with is the title track from Phoenix’s Bankrupt! record. Same principle as “Medicine Brush,” structurally – yet a different genre. Phoenix has brought to the mainstream the experimental, in many ways – leaving yours truly hopeful that bands like IBH will earn their due in the near future.


The synth hooks are present but not overpowering, and the diversity of track structure is one of the strong points of Chiaroscuro. I’m glad I followed my gut and decided to spend some time with this band I’ve never heard of before getting the promo email. To be more transparent than most review sites – sifting through the piles of promo emails can be overwhelming sometimes. Sometimes I slide into my default tastes, and sometimes I feel adventurous when seeking out what to review next. In the case of IBH it was a little bit of both. Perhaps you’ll feel the same way after taking a listen which I strong encourage.

Score: 4/5

I Break Horses is on iTunes and Facebook

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