Shoegaze in a Pop Suit
In all its loud, fuzzy glory, shoegaze is not the most palatable form of music. Usually, a given shoegaze band is too repetitive and psychedelic, too loud and unintelligible, or too hit-or-miss. On their record Citrus, Asobi Seksu show they are one of the more pop-conscious shoegaze outfits.Asobi Seksu drummer Ben Shapiro plays beats on drums that can actually be distinguished from one another as on “”Strawberries,”” not just anonymous crashes and bass hits that peek through maniacal guitar distortion. Shapiro’s drums come out mainly because James Hanna’s guitar is varied and well-placed on Citrus. He has moments of wah-inflected, Big Muff noise on songs like “”Pink Cloud Tracing Paper”” but often sticks to mellower tones. Hanna even sings on a few tracks, channeling Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo both in guitar and vocal style. Asobi Seksu songs actually have bridges, breakdowns, intros and other distinct song parts which most shoegaze acts throw away for the sake of creating an impenetrable wall of sound.
ame Vocalist Yuki Chikudate is not the average shoegaze frontwoman either. Her vocals are in the front of the mix, something rare for shoegaze, yet lathered in reverb in keeping with the tradition of the style. Another genre identifier for the band is Chikudate’s synthesizer. It sounds like a distorted guitar at times, playing crunchy, undulating noise for two minutes straight on “”Red Sea.”” Then the band follow up the Growing-caliber distortion with “”Goodbye,”” a squeaky-clean song complete with bells and duet vocals from Hanna and Chikudate.
ame Citrus is an outstanding “”pop-gaze”” record and an even better gateway drug for exploring the roots of the genre: My Bloody Valentine, Bardo Pond, Ride etc. Asobi Seksu even put on a mean live show during which they talk to the audience, dance and act altogether lively â€šÃ„Ã¬ a quality which most shoegaze bands lack.