Asobi Seksu Citrus

[Friendly Fire; 2006]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: shoegaze, pop-rock, indie rock
Others: Ride, Pixies, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Drugstore, Medicine

When I think of Loveless, I can't help but feel the warmth of the maroon colors gracing the cover; they're simply inextricable from how I feel about the album. The same goes for the black of Slowdive's Souvlaki, especially when I hear the despair on "Dagger." Of course, on Ride's Nowhere, the blue makes it the most melancholy of these albums. Who knows why, but shoegaze artists seem to have a particularly astute ability to match the color of their sleeve art to the content. New York's Asobi Seksu earns their place in the pantheon having mastered this skill on their sophomore LP, Citrus. Keep in mind that the Technicolor swirl of the artwork is a more apt depiction of the album than what follows.

Perhaps this mixture of colors should clue you in to the fact that Citrus isn't all shoegaze; guitar squall is only one compositional element rather than the M.O. of Asobi Seksu. They have plenty of other tricks up their collective sleeve, including throbbing eighth-note, alterna-rock basslines, Nirvana/Pixies dynamics, and a killer backbeat. Stylistically, Asobi Seksu are dead on — they allude to a-million-and-one-bands I adore and never sound exactly like any one of them.

Anyone, however, can adopt style; it takes about as long as figuring out which bands you want to copy. On their debut self-titled album, Asobi Seksu did a bit of that but also had a few moments that truly shone. Improving tremendously with Citrus, they have committed to making every song a pop delight — whether it be with the bells on "Lions and Tigers" or the Cure-style synths on "Nefi + Girly," no genre constraints get in the way of making these songs perfect. As a result, Citrus is screaming out to be loved, but with enough style and sophistication to avoid being a guilty pleasure.

If this isn't the album you are blaring out of your car all summer long, you aren't having enough fun.

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 Paradise
12. Mizu Asobi