(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, January 31, 2011

CD review - Asobi Seksu, Fluorescence (2011)

Last month I reviewed Asobi Seksu's single, Trails. I loved Yuki Chikudate's ethereal voice and the experimental post punk groove. This got me excited to hear their upcoming album, Fluorescence, due out February 15 (Polyvinyl Records). The new album delivers on the promise. Asobi Seksu shimmery sound is rooted in a dreamy mix of indie guitars, synthesizer swirl, and post punk pop. It's a tightrope balance of retro and modern elements.

Trails was a good choice for first single, since it's the strongest track. But the other cuts pull their own weight. The lead off jungle drumbeat of Coming Up kicks off Fluorescence. The indie guitars and synth pop sounds blend well, especially in the dappled sunlight bridge interlude.

Another favorite track was In My Head. It has a subtle, busy mix of elements. The sound is retro pop dreamy, but the arrangement is fairly tight. The many textures of guitars make this track: rising swells, staccato picking, sweet little fill riffs, and alternating waves of clean strums. The mix is dense, yet sounds effortless. Chikudate's sweet voice is key to this as well.

The long Leave the Drummer Out There is one of the more interesting tracks. The lyrics are simplistic and repetitious, but the song takes simple layered parts to build a thicker sound. The achingly beautiful vocals have sparkly echoes. The surprise is when the song seems about to end, but instead transforms into a softer sounding laid back interlude. The vibe shifts again, though, as it builds into a post punk, power poppu groove that flickers with psychedelic bits of guitar.

Asobi Seksu's melange of indie rock, synth, post punk, and dreaminess is a potent cocktail. While Yuki Chikudate's singing is a defining part of their sound, the rest of the band's contribution is just as strong. Fluorescence is an absolute treat.

Polyvinyl Records is releasing Fluorescence on CD, black vinyl, and transparent pink vinyl (limited press of 1500).

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