With Fluorescence as their fifth studio album, Asobi Seksu has been around since approximately 2001, crafting dream pop music that is sure to stand out from anything else you’ve heard from the genre. It isn’t because the music is that drastically different from the others, it’s due to the voice of front woman Yuki Chikudate. At points the vocals don’t really feel like they match, but it’s this sort of calculated chaos that Asobi Seksu has ridden upon since their beginning.
From the start of this album, you can grasp a clear idea of what this group is aiming for with this release: shoe gaze/psychedelic pop that resonates with their listeners. Hell, you could grasp this from the title and album art alone. The first song, “Coming Up,” begins with a bit of synth, some rolling drum beats, the shake of some tambourine and the borderline falsetto vocals of Chikudate. After a few moments the distorted and swirling guitar kicks in, surrounding the listener with its dreamy aura. From here, the song really takes off, mixing the already present high-pitched vocals of Chikudate, with that of James Hanna for some contrast. For a start, you can get much better than this: the buzzing hooks of the guitar entice, while the vocals make you wonder where else the group can go with the album.
Following this lush first number comes an example of the calculated chaos that I mentioned earlier. While the instruments take a grungier, dug in sound, the vocals do not and are left to waver over the top. One might think that a whispery vocal would be the compliment to such a sound, but instead it is accompanied with a full voice, oscillating a lot between highs and lows. For some parts of “Trails,” it comes across as slightly disjointed, but at others it feels so right. Towards the end of the number comes a breakdown that should surely prove amazing live. While not the highest pitch, the vocals are entrenched and dripping with emotion and feeling, as though they are being pushed to their very limit.
The rest of the album follows suit of these two songs, but some do not quite reach their caliber. Depending on your personal flavor, that could mean that the songs that delight me fall flat to you; there are so many elements to this shoe-gazy sound that everyone can find something that they like about it. Whether it be on the long epic track of “Leave the Drummer Out,” or on the short “Deep Weird Sleep,” there is bound to be something that sticks with you.
While Flourescence is not the most interesting album that is going to come out this year, or maybe even this week, it is still good enough to merit some of your time. It’s light and fluffy music that is perfect for the start of spring lingering around the corner.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/02-Trails-1.mp3]
Download: Asobi Seksu – Trails [MP3]