Asobi Seksu - Asobi Seksu

Clark Summers 29/06/2007

Rating: 3.5/5

Asobi Seksu were suffering from a serious case of the My Bloody Valentine's when it came to the release of their self-titled debut album - given a belated release in the UK three years hence by One Little Indian. Plenty of bands before them had worshipped at the altar of Kevin Shields and co. but few were able to recall the splendour of “Loveless” with such style on their debut outing. Sure this album is highly derivative and could have been plucked from straight out of the early 90's Creation archive but to dismiss this it out of hand would be to do a disservice to these New York natives.

Asobi Seksu is an album purposefully designed to be listened to on headphones. Crank up the volume loud and let wave upon wave of guitar noise wash over you like a cooling balm for this is an album that can transport you away from the day to day drudgery of modern life even if it's only for 40 minutes. Yuki Chikudate's vocals may sound rather flimsy when put to the test by wall upon wall of driving guitars but they act as perfect counterpoint adding some light to the overall mix. Her sweetly sung mixture of Japanese and English displays a not unwelcome naivety and charm that provides Asobi with their unique selling point amongst a sea of Ride sound-a-likes.

The chiming opener “I'm Happy But You Don't Like Me” is the closest A.S. come to pure indie pop and is something of a curio, eschewing hazy psychedelia for crystalline melodies and a hooky chorus. Obvious touchstones for these New Yorkers include Ride's “Nowhere” and the early material of the vastly under-rated Lush (think “Spooky” not “Lovelife”) but they're not afraid to veer into drone territory when the mood takes them. The juddering “Sooner” is a particularly good example of this latent tendency. Asobi are certainly not averse to cranking up the volume either, their sugar-sweet coating betraying a rather acidic centre on several occasions. The blistering “Umi De No Jisatsu” owes an obvious debt to Sonic Youth and their no-wave ilk even if it does add a slightly poppier varnish. Guitarist James Hanna also takes on vocals for the impressive early Spiritualized pastiche that is “Let Them Wait”. Elsewhere there are dalliances with dream pop (the epic “It's Too Late”) and chiming indie rock (the pedestrian “End At The Beginning”) which are perhaps a little on the watered down side. All can be forgiven though for the gorgeous “Stay” an obvious stand-out in a solid set. Make no mistake, the odd weak track (the cacophonous “Asobi Masho”) aside this is a fine debut album that bears all the hallmarks of a talent that was to blossom on the band's follow up “Citrus”.

Released on the 4th of June.