September 28, 2006

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Asobi Seksu, Citrus
Friendly Fire Recordings, 2006

By stoically refusing ever to venture from their nu-gaze confines, New Yorkers Asobi Seksu are about to find themselves leapfrogging up a few notches in the genre’s standings. There’s no avoiding comparisons to My Bloody Valentine (and Lush, thanks to Keith Hopkin’s oft-ambitious drums), but their nu-ness is owed to several things: a single-guitar tsunami of sound, front-babe/keyboarder Yuki’s singing in Japanese some of the time, and retro nods to such extinct crook-leggers as Modern English. They’re the flip-side of Televise with respect to speed, favoring the allegro to keep their sonority burning on all cylinders and set the pressure gauge for Yuki’s waifish but sexually null helium-huffing. And there’s the rub for any potential shoegaze resurgence, a short half-life guaranteed by historical precedent: for the second album in a row, Yuki’s hotness is exploited on the cover graphic, and for the second album in a row her voice is paradoxically sexless, leaving the impression of a disaffected Martian cubicle-rat who needs to be frightened away by barbarian stoners with mud-coated guitars. And that train’s never late. B+

— Eric W. Saeger