Shoegaze never died, but it is a bit less often that one hears a truly convincing record of the genre, which is probably why I embraced 2006's Citrus, the second album by Indie rockers, Asobi Seksu, and why I'm also partial to this new album, Hush, which sees the same template improved upon and in service of a better set of songs. None are stronger than the opener, "Layers," with its slow-burn build and shimmery keyboards that make it sound positively astral; a fitting theme given a later track named "In The Sky."
There's something about Japanese vocalist Yuki Chikudate's breathy voice, which sits comfortably in the blissed-out fog of the mix that evokes twilight or nighttime. Whereas Citrus, with its orange artwork and playful compositions, had the appeal of a fall season dusk, Hush, whose album cover is a ghostly white with the faint silhouette of animals visible through a haze of snow (?), strikes me as Asobi Seksu's winter record (call it a shoegaze rendition of Bjork's gorgeous Vespertine). Couple that with the album's release date and I think I have a pretty convincing argument, no?
The songs on Hush are appropriately chilly, sometimes to their detriment (the Sci-Fi wooziness of "Gliss" is a bit of a turn off), but more often than not enforcing the agreeably frigid vibe. Take closer "Blind Little Rain," for example, which waltzes along through a thick atmosphere of reverb and echoey sighs, making for Asobi Seksu's most lilting lullaby of a song to date, with glacial, patient pacing that's been heretofore all but absent from Asobi Seksu's playbook.
Ironically, a later track, "Glacially," is anything but with its abrasive guitar riffs and steady percussion. Then there's the album’s centerpiece, "Transparence," which begins with a few seconds of shimmering synths, evoking falling snow, and then gleefully becomes the album's most explosive rocker with furious percussion that recalls the best track on Citrus, "Goodbye."