Asobi Seksu – Citrus (2007)

Asobi Seksu - CitrusDream pop is meant to evoke a certain kind of emotion and thought when listened to. Asobi Seksu (Japanese for “playful sex”) takes it a step further by creating another plane of enchantment in Citrus by having lead vocalist Yuki Chikudate intersperse Japanese with her English lyrics. This effect creates an often sensual and playful atmosphere.

I’m cheating by using an adjective that comes directly from the band’s name, but I couldn’t think of a word that better describes the music. This is especially true in both “New Years,” with its extreme upbeatedness (I don’t even think that’s a word), as well as the more laid-back “Strawberries,” with its initial casualness.

Asobi is able to maintain a mature sound, despite a brush of teenage angst and a touch of childish innocence. You can sense the youthful rebelliousness in “Strings,” while also feeling the adult restraint through the frequent tempo changes.

Is it confused indecision or just the usual growing pains?

The biggest influence I can hear on Asobi (“Thursday” and “Goodbye”) is The Cranberries. There are similarities between Yuki’s voice and Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan, and both bands seem to strive for the same general mood.

There’s a double-edged sword to Yuki’s smooth and tranquil voice. Sometimes I can’t understand a word she’s singing. To a point, it wouldn’t matter because the sound of her voice goes beautifully with the album’s rhythm. But there were lots of times that I didn’t know she was even singing in English. Her voice is so soft that I couldn’t detect the language, and thought she was still singing in Japanese.

Asobi Seksu can also sort of rock out (“Pink Cloud Tracing Paper”) and even serenade (“Exotic Animal Paradise”), every once in a while. The biggest disapointments were the slower tracks like “Exotic Animal Paradise” and “Lions And Tigers.” But even these slight deviations are greatly welcomed doses of reality, after what sometimes feels like an endless trance-like state.

Citrus is a fine album, but at times seems tiresome through the occasional bouts of language interpretations and infrequent stylistic variations.

Asobi Seksu

[photo via Daily Northwestern]

Asobi Seksu

[photo via Force Field]

Track list:

    1. Everything Is On
    2. Strawberries
    3. New Years
    4. Thursday
    5. Strings
    6. Pink Cloud Tracing Paper
    7. Red Sea
    8. Goodbye
    9. Lions And Tigers
    10. Nefi + Girly
    11. Exotic Animal Parade
    12. Mizu Asobi

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