CD Review of Hush by Asobi Seksu
Asobi Seksu: Hush
Recommended if you like
My Bloody Valentine, Lush,
The Brother Kite
Label
Polyvinyl
Asobi Seksu: Hush

Reviewed by Michael Fortes

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D
reamy, lush walls of sound mark Hush, the third album by New York’s Asobi Seksu, firmly placing them in the company of bands like the Brother Kite and (duh) Lush. And yet, even though this is pretty much exactly where they left off on 2006’s Citrus, a little surprise is nevertheless wrapped into the first track, though most likely unintentionally.

From the very first notes of "Layers," it’s the more mystical moments of Yes that are evoked – anyone familiar with Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe’s classic Yes-in-all-but-name single "Brother of Mine" will have a hard time resisting the temptation to spin and re-spin that 20-year-old tune after a hearing just a few seconds of Asobi frontwoman Yuki Chikudate warbling Jon Anderson-style over a gentle, meditative, sleigh bell-laden track that serves as a musically self-referencing starting point (the chorus is "under layers" repeated) to Hush.

Beyond this odd throwback, the only other major departure from Citrus is the absence of a rocker that matches the frantic pace of a tune like "New Years," though "Me and Mary" tries to replicate the former’s amped-up pogo bounce. If it falls just a tad short, it could be attributed to the fact that the band apparently felt "destroyed" when core members Chikudate and James Hanna had to deal with a shifting lineup after Citrus earned Asobi some buzz. Whatever they were feeling, the music didn’t suffer for it. Hush is a prime example of a band finding beauty in chaotic situations. Song titles alone, like "Risky and Pretty" and "Sing Tomorrow’s Praise," reflect a solid, level-headed outlook, which is a refreshing match to the band’s layers of shoegazey audio drapery.

Though Hanna is the guitar mastermind of Asobi, his vocals fail to elicit the same amount of beauty and excitement as his six-string. His turn at the mic on "I Can’t See" is the first indication of a downer vibe on the record, though his harmonizing with Chikudate on the brief album closer "Blind Little Rain" gets a pass – even though the combination of the two seems to bring out a folky sadness in both of their voices, the effect is cute in a good way, and ends the record on a note of togetherness. "The water’s not safe to go in today," Chikudate sings, but clearly Asobi has already swum through the worst of the choppy waters, and sounds plenty alive for it.

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