Release Date: 2011
As I Break Horses, Sweden's Maria Lindén makes gauzy dream pop infused with warmth. Earlier in this space we heard "Hearts", which filled all available space with guitar distortion and ethereal vocals but also managed to convey a sense of simplicity and intimacy. "Winter Beats", another highlight from her forthcoming debut, Hearts, is even more widescreen and has that much more to obsess over. The core of the song is the opening synth, which glows and builds for the entire four-and-a-half minutes. It starts at a whisper and picks up volume, only to be buried under layer after layer of percussion, guitars, and less jumpy, more evenly distributed keys. The layers soar and swoon until about halfway through, and then everything stops for a few seconds except a slowly growing fuzz tone. It's the sort of silence that reeks of anticipation, and as the fuzz reaches its peak volume, drums crash in with a fleet of layers in one of the most satisfying builds to grace my headphones this year. After that moment, everything sounds enormous-- Lindén cooing "winter beats," the thunderclapping sonic hits, the tinny percussive accents, and, again, that climbing central synth. "Winter Beats" is the first track on Hearts, and it's the ideal introduction to this project's world.
- EVAN MINSKER, Pitchfork (2011)