Review : Asobi Seksu - Hush
SputnikmusicNo matter what the final product may have been, the moment Asobi Seksu began writing the follow up to the highly praised Citrus it became inevitable that there would be some sort of fan backlash. And this shouldn't surprise anybody; there are innumerable examples of bands or artists who have, for better or for worse, changed their sound only to be bombarded with criticism on the unveiling of new material. The reverb heavy shoegaze heard on Citrus won over many a fan back in 2006, and for very good reason. Though the band did take a page out of early 90s shoegaze bands, they turned around and added their own unique flair to the record, which prevented them from sounding too much like your typical, shoegazing revivalists.
Of course, 'shoegaze revivalists' was exactly what Asobi Seksu was tagged as following the fanfare surrounding Citrus. Perhaps at odds with such a label, Hush sees Asobi Seksu mellow out their sound dramatically. Indeed, the quartet's third album has a lot more in common with Cocteau Twins than the likes of My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive. What shoegaze or noise pop stylings that could once be considered staples in the band's sound are now gone; only the album's penultimate track and first single "Me and Mary" features even a lick of heavy distortion, and even then, it has more of a subtle effect on the actual mix than the band's sound itself....full text
NoripcordEven though Asobi Seksu is a highly unlikely Japanese name (it means ‘casual sex’, after all) early reviews of this New York band’s work seemed to exclusively begin with a biographical paragraph emphasising the fact that this is not a Japanese solo artist. Having established a reputation as one of the premier nu-gaze acts with 2006’s Citrus, however, such formalities are probably no longer required. Indeed, thanks to a couple of high profile appearances on the popular TV series Skins (which, for better or worse, made the Gossip a household name in the UK) the intimidating group of teenagers skulking around outside my flat probably know more about Asobi Seksu (no pun intended) than I do.
Hush is by no means a radical departure from Citrus, but it does represent a gentle step in the direction of more orchestral dream-pop. Most of the songs are three to four minutes long, and this is indicative of a growing pop sensibility. The slow, shimmering Layers announces the arrival of this new and improved Asobi Seksu, building – as the title suggests – to a lush, multilayered finale. Familiar Light features more inventive percussion work and evokes the spirit of the Cocteau Twins at their very best. Along with the cheery Me and Mary (late-80s jangle-pop through a shoegaze filter) and the delightfully melodic Sunshower, this is about as overtly pop as Hush gets. Elsewhere, the stuttering reverberations of Mehnomae and gloomy tones of I Can’t See add some welcome balance to the proceedings, preventing Hush from sounding too saccharine....full text
PopmattersMaybe noise-pop, in its latest, crashing-towards-the-mainstream iteration, is to shoegaze as pop-punk is to true punk. The former, adding gloss to essentially pop-music structures; the latter, a denser, less accessible version in which the medium is >half the appeal of itself. Shoegaze, given over as it has been to subtleties of timbre within overpowering distortion, is, after all, about finding beauty in abstraction. This can make approach difficult.
But we have Asobi Seksu, a band that has been widely admired for investigating the middle ground, where melodies inform but don’t overwhelm those certain My Bloody Valentine tendencies. But the group’s also perpetuating a kind of trickery, because they’re from New York City, though their embrace of Japanese iconography and, of course, Yuki Chikudate’s half-English, half-Japanese lyrics could have you fooled. In their music, too, the illusion of shoegaze has covered—increasingly on Citrus and, now, Hush—some moments of blatant, gorgeous, pop....full text
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