Music Reviews

Asobi Seksu Citrus

(Friendly Fire) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

With a fluorescent orange jewel case that appears to be infused with the radioactive fallout of Chernobyl, the pop art aesthetic of Asobi Seksu's latest album Citrus demands attention like a Harijouko Girl. Chronically misfiled under Seksu, Asobi; the name refers to more than the girl lying in a bed of Japanese media blitz on the cover. With a rough translation from Japanese meaning "playful sex", Asobi Seksu is in fact a full New York three-piece. Aboard their red carpet carousel, it appears they infuse both shoegaze and dreampop with the euphoria of a kid on a merry-go-round.

Tearing Citrus apart would result in a shroud of spotlight gels at the mouth of a volcano. Clearing the palette like a pre-departure airline towelette in the glistening texture of a Sigur Ros interlude, Everything is On throws Citrus into its toe-wiggling, sun shining, arty pop-art slide show. The gentle ambience quickly gives way to clean, poised guitar that opens Strawberries before the song begins its sanguine flirtation with slides and reverberation. On Strings, the developed capricious energy meekly makes room for petite confessions, before the improvised fury of Pink Cloud Tracing Paper and Red Sea take on the middle of the album with the relentlessness of a concert encore. In an aircraft style landing, the album starts descending thirty minutes before anyone takes heed, all with its textured spirals of sticky, crystallized shoegaze.

Naturally there have been My Bloody Valentine comparisons. Loveless is the definitive shoegaze record, though Asobi Seksu is nowhere near as clamorous or obscure. In actuality, they sound more like Lush, running their path with methodical zeal. Though they anticipate their transitions like clockwork, they still find space to be erratic, creating a fine mathematical formula that fuses flair with sonic resilience. The drums rush with concise spontaneity, the guitars glimmer, and the vocals boast with radiance. In connecting the dots back to the cover (Sean McCabe, you do good work), it seems Asobi Seksu may just be the answer to chewing gum in space and staying fashionable.

Yuki is, after all, a bit of a glamourous baby doll. Compared to the occasional nonchalant vocal appear of guitarist James Hanna, she leads her stream of disjointed lyrics by toggling between English and Japanese as effectively as a hidden seam on a designer dress. Ostensibly the forerunner, she's up against the wall alongside all the other Japanese women vocalizing art rock. But while her voice borders on falsetto like the obvious comparisons to Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead or Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, she lacks their eccentricity. Never dropping the frivolous naiveté, her sweet cries occasionally overdose in attempting a mix between Lolita and Sailor Moon. Otherwise, her airy vox helps to keep the record's vitamin C quotient above the recommended daily intake.

The main fervor in Citrus is that it always seems to stay fresh. Heavy with the nostalgic sound of shoegaze and dreampop, Citrus boasts modernity by praising the styles more as design elements than as foundation. Bringing into account its boastful red carpets, volcano surges and spinning colour wheels of spotlight gels, the whole package proves to have more affection than a Sanrio stationary set. With acute production aptitude chased by a trail of cinnamon hearts, Citrus is about as tight as a red ribbon around a brown paper box.