Sophomore albums can be a tricky thing. It more often than not determines whether an artist or band was merely a fluke or if they are ready to establish a career out of making music. If you’re a dream-pop band trying to recreate the success of your debut, there are several ways to go about it. You could give your audience more of the same but with bigger and brighter production budget, or choose a more experimental approach, and thereby earn enough credibility to reach a wider audience. Or like in I Break Horses case, you could show just how diverse of an artist you are by creating something entirely different.
“Denial” has very little left of the digitalized shoegaze of the Swedish duo’s acclaimed debut album. The wall of sound-imbedded lushness and the distortion pedals are changed for a distinguishably cleaner sound, balancing between the boisterous dream-pop of HAERTS and the life-rejoicing synth-pop of CHVRCHES. In the confinement of dream-pop, “Denial” is an up-beat and sober track, coated in a rich body of analogue synthesizers and scattered percussions. It serves its purpose with beautiful vocals and euphoric synth-hooks that calls for repeated spins.
I Break Horses debut Hearts might’ve spawned a polarized but fairly positive jury verdict, but I for one was never swayed into thinking it was anything more than an average sounding shoegaze album. “Winters Beats” and “Hearts” may still be two of the most fascinating shoegaze tracks that ever hailed out of Sweden, but “Denial” is at least for me, a welcomed change in direction.
‘Denial’ is set to be released exclusively on limited edition vinyl. Whether it will be featured on their upcoming sophomore album, due out in fall, is yet to be determined.