Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fitter, Happier, More Productive: Asobi Seksu, Hush

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 6:19 PM

(Tuesdays can be a trying day here in Club Land at the RFT. It's deadline day for the show/concert listings, and this fact hangs over my head just like all of those foreboding elementary school (and high school and college) homework assignments that I would inevitably put off to the last minute. But Tuesdays always go off without a hitch, and it's all because the right music always seems to present itself. Each week I'll talk about what induces the trance-like state I need to become one with the listings.)

This week New York shoegazers Asobi Seksu kept me company with its soon-to-be released full-length effort Hush.

Asobi Seksu had my attention from the first time I saw them perform in St. Louis at The Way Out Club way back in 2005. Its eponymous 2004 album was packed with sugary pop numbers shrouded in gritty layers of guitar generated noise and 2006's Citrus was even more irresistible, with vocalist/keyboadist Yuki Chikudate dropping saccharine-sweet lemondrops-as-pop-hooks that were once again awash in guitarist James Hanna's supersonic noise machine.

But Asobi's latest album Hush is a serious departure for the band. Chikudate and Hanna craft a mellower brand of spacey dream-pop that's more mature and challenging than anything it has done before. Instead of harsh waves of distorted guitar, this record focuses more on lush synth patches, round and sub-low bass tones and reverb-drenched acoustic strums. While the album does have a few catchy choruses (the first single "Me and Mary" qualifies), its songs mostly rely on sprawling arrangements that set a mood and then incorporate dynamic shifts -- from densely packed passages of swirling atmospherics to weightless and dreamy sections that allow the spotlight to shine on Chikudate's tender falsetto swoon. Hush will be released on Polyvinyl Records on February 17.  



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