Asobi Seksu Asobi Seksu

A re-release of the group’s 2002 debut, Asobi Seksu (it translates into "play sex”) is, to say the least, an interesting mixture of finely textured shoegaze and any number of 4AD artists from the ’80s and early ’90s, with hints of cutesy bubblegum pop that thankfully never receive full focus. The record’s only real hindrance is the remarkably atmospheric and relentless backing band’s tendency to become so intense that Yuki Chikudate’s sometimes fey vocals (which switch between English and Japanese) can be slightly off-putting. But then she is able to confidently deliver a track like highlight "Walk On The Moon,” and the two sides seem to blend perfectly, as can also be evidenced with the Stereolab-esque "Taiyo” or the Sonic Youth exercise "Asobi Masho.” Guitarist James Hanna also lends vocals to several of the album’s cuts, and his Ian Brown-meets-Jarvis Cocker swagger adding a nice balance to Chikudate’s many voices. But, in the end, it’s really the instrumentation that makes this album so good, and its use in tracks like the psychedelic shoegaze freak-out "It’s Too Late” that make this a promising debut. (Friendly Fire)