I have been an avid fan of Asobi Seksu ever since I was introduced to them via a 2005 blog post in which David (or was it Chandler?) of Snowden outlined some bands he was listening to at the moment (Snowden had played Gothamist’s Movable Hype show with them the previous November in NYC). In 2006, after having jammed their 2003 self titled debut full length probably tens of dozens of times, I was really excited to hear about a forthcoming follow-up, Citrus.
Citrus lived up to my every expectation, including a crushing combination of face-melting walls of distortion and Yuki’s super-catchy vocal and keyboard harmonies I fell in love with on their first. Going one step further, the album featured a much improved audio quality, no doubt due to its being recorded at Gigantic Studios and featuring production by Chris Zane (by the way, it’s worth mentioning that despite being a minor label release, the s/t features excellent production and sounds teriffic). Citrus still blows me away, and I placed it at #31 on my Best Albums of 2000-2009 list.
I was a bit worried when the band’s next move was signing with Polyvinyl. While I generally think it’s got a great lineup of bands, I feel there’s been a “Polyvinyl Curse” on many bands I like. The curse was – after signing with the label, the band would put out something way less impressive than previous records. Just one week prior to the Asobi Seksu announcement, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin released their Polyvinyl debut, Pershing, a disappointing follow-up to their self-released Broom, which is an epic record (I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t heard it). My only comfort was in the fact that label mates of Montreal were putting out some of their best records one after another on Polyvinyl, namely a trilogy consisting of Satanic Panic in the Attic, The Sunlandic Twins, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? The last of which, by the way, is my #2 record of the last decade.
Anyway, Hush was released in 2009 and my reaction was mixed. I definitely felt the familiar Asobi vibe and was digging it, but the noticeable difference was the missing wall of sound. While the name Hush suggests something like an acoustic record or stripped down / intimate set, this wasn’t quite “quiet,” at least not in a traditional sense. Compared to their previous records, though, Hush definitely missed the mark in terms of the layers of distortion I had come to know and love (and expect). Still, with a batch of excellent songs and the solid production of Zane, the record left on me a favorable impression.
Asobi followed through with a tour only release of an acoustic set recorded at Olympic Studios (later reissued as Rewolf – and I would claim this would have more aptly been the release named “Hush”), and the Transparence EP whose title track was a glimmer of hope for the Asobi I was craving, but was otherwise mainly electro-leaning. While these were fantastic in their own right, I was beginning to wonder if the full sounds I had enjoyed so deeply on s/t and Citrus were gone for good. Signal 2011, and Fluorescence.
On their fourth full length, Asobi Seksu strikes a sweet balance between the supremely pleasing walls of noise found on Citrus, the evolved song-writing illustrated on Hush, and yes they have even honed that flirtation with the electro on tracks such as “Counterglow” (rounded out with a more trademark Asobi sound that leaves a more organic end result). The band also explores some new ground, including an almost Goblinesque “Deep Weird Sleep,” and “Leave The Drummer Out There,” which borders on the Pink Floyd inspired. Maybe the next record will be a full-out 70’s prog rock revival? (let’s hope its not!) :]
All of this coupled with excellent production (once again the work of Zane) and the result is: after only a few listens I am in love with this record! You can pre-order CD or 180g vinyl (two versions, one limited) here. And in the meantime, check out a preview track, “Leave The Drummer Out There.”