Monday, 14 February 2011

Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence (Polyvinyl)

NYC two-piece Asobi Seksu make prettily archetypal shoegaze songs ( I was going to say nu-gaze but it makes me want to barf) made atypical with schizophrenic vocals and playful eighties electronica. They are easily comparable to My Bloody Valentine with their sloping upbeat intros, and Yuki Chikudate’s warbling, echoed vocal instantly exposes her to be a Cocteau Twins fan. These observations come easily with most ‘dream pop’ releases, but there are stronger links here to the pop than the dream. Although Fluorescence is as hazy and mellow as a sunny afternoon spent on mushrooms, the gossamer-thin atmosphere of the album floats around a core of strong, catchy pop music. A strong resemblance to Strawberry Switchblade and Saturdays=Youth era M83 makes this release stand alone as something with more substance than many of the dreamy, layered, effect heavy, releases that are bound to flood the indie charts this year.

Coming up is aptly named, there is a youthful 80s exuberance to the track which would fit nicely amongst Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds in a John Hughes movie. Trails has some pretty impressive operatic-style vocal gymnastics.Perfectly crystal took me back to my teenage bedroom, the wispy vocals echo like a memory, and secures it as a track to come back to time and again. Love Will Tear Us Apart drums and guitar feature on clanging cacophony of a track, Leave The drummer Out There. The album is varied and not afraid to take chances, and some of the best parts of Fluorescence are where guitarist James Hanna experiments with a more joyful sound, and Chikudate turns her hand to singing in Japanese. Sigh sees high pitched little-girl vocals turn into womanly ooh-ing, and erratic keys become scratchy Johnny Greenwood guitars. It is a trilling pop hit, in the vein of Arcade Fire, and it’s fabulous. Moreover,Trance Out, with its punky J-Pop intro and danceable melodies shows the versatility the band is capable of. Some tracks are a little draining, and seem to go nowhere (Counterglow, Ocean) but overall, this release is a delight to behold. Come February 14th I will be eschewing the purchase of chocolates or soft toys and spending my money on the clear pink vinyl edition (available for pre-order through their MySpace page), and I suggest you do the same.

Words : Maya Boustany

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