When I Break Horses released their debut album, 'Hearts,' in 2011, we were instantly entranced by the Swedish duo and their shoegaze sound. Now, two years later, Maria Linden and her writing partner, Fredrik Balck, are back with a new LP, 'Chiaroscuro,' which arrives on Jan. 21 via Bella Union/PIAS.

“My only aim when starting to write this album was to ignore any possible second album expectations," Linden says in a press release.

And with songs like 'Ascension' and their latest single, 'Faith,' it's clear that the duo is writing with a clean slate and showing us they're willing to take risks and move in different musical directions. Diffuser.fm chatted with Linden about being an '80s kid, touring with Sigur Ros and when she'll be heading to the U.S. again.

'Hearts' was such a hits with fans and critics alike. What was your approach to making 'Chiaroscuro?'

I've always admired artists who explore new sounds, genres between albums and personally I felt I had to be able to do that to keep the creative process fun and exciting. So when I started writing new songs and realized what kind of an album I wanted to do for myself it was natural for me to move in a slightly different direction than on the debut album. Still, I also think there are many parts of the new album that are closely connected with the debut when it comes to vibe and harmonies, just performed in another way.

You focused the songwriting's foundation on the piano. How did that change the outcome of the album's sound?

I think it simply made the whole process from early ideas to a finished album faster writing the songs with a more limited set up instrument wise rather than building the songs on soundscapes based on synthesizers with endless possibilities etc. So it didn't necessarily change the outcome of the album's sound as I still brought in a lot of different sounds later in the production but, I had the finalized album in my hands earlier than the debut.

A number of the tracks on 'Chairoscuro' sound like they were something out of the '80s. Who or what were you inspired by while making this album?

I have a lot of different musical heroes that can't be tied to a certain decade, but after all I'm a child of the '80s so there are a lot of traces in my sound of what was significative in the general '80s music. It's in my blood!

What's the premise behind the video for 'Faith'?

To be honest, it's a video that was made in a real rush. We had about 2 days to make it, from initial ideas to a finalized video. We scrapped the first ideas as we couldn't find locations etc and simply ended up at a house with a pool [laughs]! The focus was more about creating beautiful b/w photography to accompany the rather dark sounding tune.

What's the song 'Denial' about?

It's about the superficiality in today's individualistic consumer society that sort of dances upon a harsh ground of real life. It is suppose to sound like tiny bubbles of superficiality that get tossed around and finally punctured by the side chain muscle of death!

You're on tour with Sigur Ros. What's the best thing about being on the road with them?

First of all, it's a great honor to get the chance to tour with such a wonderful band but the excitement is, of course, also about sharing my music with thousands of people every night.

I Break Horses is playing in Europe, but when will you be back in the US?

We're working on it and hope to be able to do a tour early 2014. We absolutely love touring in the US so can't wait to come back!

What are I Break Horses plans for 2014?

First of all, the plan is to tour with the new material, but I also hope to finish an EP I've started working on.