Asobi Seksu Citrus Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Not the easiest album to get to grips with, although most would find this an...

Helen Groom 2007

For those of you looking for a translation, Asobi Seksu apparently means ‘playful sex’ in Japanese. For those of you wondering what Asobi Seksu sound like; this is shoegazing My Bloody Valentine territory.

Citrus is pretty impenetrable on your first listen, but give it a bit more time and it starts to reveal itself to be more interesting than most of the music currently bothering the top of the charts. Paul Potts this is not.

Intriguingly, this second album from the New York-based band, is in both Japanese and English, yet even when the words are in a tongue you can understand, the meaning can be a tad difficult to grasp. ‘Disconnect the feeling factory/ Put your tongue up to my battery/ Things are so much smoother when they lie/ Crush your cigarettes out on an orange sky and try,’ is particularly puzzling.

Characterising all the songs here is a luscious, layered, dream-pop sound. It swirls around you, otherworldly with indistinct vocals and blurry sounds. Singer Yuki’s voice swoops from ear-wobblingly high pitches to levels that humans can hear comfortably, while James Hanna’s guitar playing is never less than an effects-laden, fuzzy-sounding, textured wall of sound.

“Goodbye” is by far the most mainstream song here, and Yuki manages to get some toughness into her voice. It has more bite and substance to it than the rest of the ethereal-sounding album.

“Mizu Asobi” is another high point, being so catchy you almost convince yourself you can understand the words, until you realise they are in Japanese. “Exotic Animal Paradise” is in sharp contrast to this, being more downbeat and slower, until it suddenly rips into a mass of textured guitar playing.

It is not the easiest album to get to grips with, although most would find this an interesting listen if nothing else. But if ethereal dream-pop heavy on the My Bloody Valentine tip isn’t your thing, give it a miss.

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