Asobi Seksu - Citrus

Jorge Costa 24/08/2007

Rating: 4.5/5

Within the first minute of 'Citrus', Asobi Seksu shows more ambition and more character than the entirety of their wholly unexceptional debut. That album hinted at this band's instrumental talent and ability at sustaining mood through the highlights in 'Sooner', 'It's Too Late' and particularly 'Stay'. But for the majority of that album, Asobi Seksu just seemed merely content to work in the collective shadow of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ride and their ilk that their shoegaze aesthetics sounded way too run-of-the-mill to be regarded with any interest or enjoyment.

For sure, Yuki Chikudate and colleagues are still indebted to these bands, but Asobi Seksu now has a personality. And it's a loud one: there's so much reverb and thrashing guitar effects on practically every track that initial listens will give the impression of a weaker latter album half just out of sheer redundancy. But stick with it.

Chris Zane (Les Savy Fav), introduces the album with his luminous production on 'Everything Is On' before it segues into James Hanna's guitar intro of 'Strawberries'; with it's euphoric bridge, slippery electronic elements and huge crescendo, this is the first of many highlights. This track also does a good job in showcasing Chikudate's more confident vocal delivery; she may not have the strongest voice out there, but it perfectly complements the album's busy sound and actually helps to turn 'Lions And Tigers' and 'Nefi + Girly' into melodious little gems. However, it's the Japanese chorus on 'Strings' that allows her vocals to swoop and achieve a pitch that's almost out of a human's hearing range.

Elsewhere, the epic 'Red Sea' blasts your ears with an aggressively raw fuzz of guitar noise that stretches for over three minutes, while on lead single 'Thursday', vocals are sent fluttering over such an expanse of sound effects that if there was even more reverb you could probably physically wade through it. The production and rich percussion help to smooth over the slightly distracting change in mood incurred by 'Pink Cloud Tracing Paper' (Hanna's only solo vocal delivery) and stops 'Goodbye' from descending into just another generic pop song.

The album would have ended perfectly with the energetic 'Mizu Asobi', but instead we get an untitled and totally unnecessary “quiet” track (because every album needs one of those, right?) driven by a toy piano that sounds completely detached from the rest of the album. Maybe it was intentional, but you're better off programming it out altogether because for the rest of the time, this album is a joy to listen to; the hyperactive, colourful and lively ying to Blonde Redhead's sober and melancholic yang.