The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Three long years after the muscularly beautiful Citrus gave shoegaze enthusiasts something to stand up and take notice of, Yuki Chikudate and James Hanna of Asobi Seksu have returned with a more subdued suite of songs on Hush. For those who spent the time between albums anticipating the odd single or scrounging the Internet for leaks of tracks herein, this album will satiate that hunger even with minor changes in the band’s sound. Hush shows an almost immediate departure from Citrus as the beautifully processional “Layers” leads off with a shimmering, slow-burning build with layered keyboards recalling Heaven or Las Vegas-era Cocteau Twins instead of their more commonly referenced, shoegaze maestros My Bloody Valentine. This sets an astral tone for the album that continues through cuts like “Transparence,” “Gliss,â€šÃ„Ã¹ “In the Sky,” “Sing Tomorrow’s Praise” and “Familiar Light.” These moments also see Yuki’s vocals buried within, just beyond intelligibility. It becomes easier, maybe even more appropriate, for the listener to just get lost in the sheer majesty of the music.
Chikudate and Hanna don’t let the shoegaze wander too far though. When Hanna pulls out his guitar on the likes of “Meh No Mae,” “Glacially” and especially the sublime “Me & Mary,” all expectations for this album have been reached and breached. “Me & Mary” is easily the climax of the set, Yuki going deep and lovelorn, warbling “Fail to keep the memories on my side / Love so much that I can’t survive / Love so much that I’m dead inside” over Hanna’s rumbling, feedback-laden, irresistible hook.
While Citrus was a real surprise in 2006, the weight of expectation may yield unwarranted scorn toward Hush. However, while Asobi Seksu may have gone a quieter route overall, the result is another top-shelf effort from a band whose name is colloquial Japanese for “casual sex.” Who could have a problem with any of this?