Review by Tim Sendra
Asobi Seksu are part of the contingent of bands who refuse to let shoegazing die. There are enough guitar effects on Citrus to make Kevin Shields proud and enough reverb and echo on the vocals to make Rachel Goswell blush. Asobi Seksu make judicious use of loud-soft dynamics, aren't afraid to disappear into great walls of guitar noise, and most importantly, they write very good, adventurous, and memorable pop songs. On song after song they throw hook after hook at the listener, vocal melodies, guitar lines, basslines, atmospheres -- everything here is a hook that draws you into the band's cocoon of sound. Singer Yuki has a very malleable voice; one minute she is whispering girlishly, the next she is spreading her wings and coasting on a cloud of guitars. Guitarist James Hanna is very adept at over-dubbing, he turns himself into a swirling, marauding army of guitars that never overwhelms the tunes and always provides perfect accompaniment to the vocals. As the record plays you'll think of Moose (especially on "Strawberries" and "Strings") you'll think of buzz pop bands like the Primitives ("Thursday," "Goodbye"), maybe some Ride ("Lions and Tigers"), definitely My Bloody Valentine (just about everywhere!). When the record ends you'll think that this is a damn good record by a damn good band, and who cares if you can hear their influences so transparently? There is no shame in keeping a sound alive, especially if you invest it with energy, new ideas, and some soul. It also helps if you bring songs that are as good as those that the originators had. Asobi Seksu have done just that and Citrus is as good a shoegaze record you will ever hear, regardless of release date.
Contrary to what you may see written about them, Asobi Seksu aren't gazing at their shoes on their second album-- they're looking skyward the whole time. Yes, the guitar overload, massive reverb, and deceptively sweet vocals are all there, but this New York quartet is anything but a My Bloody Valentine retread.
Frontwoman Yuki Chikudate gives the band a charismatic focus, and her vocals range from a soulful croon to a delicate wisp. Whether she's singing in Japanese or English (she does both in about equal measure), she always keeps it catchy, and that squishing sound you hear when she sings "put your tongue up to my battery" on "Nefi+Girly" is indie boys melting across the country.
If the singer/keyboardist was the only member of the band who had anything going on, you wouldn't have much to work with, but guitarist James Hanna offers some great backing harmonies-- especially on the chorus of "Goodbye", with its twanging hook and subdued tone. The new rhythm section of drummer Mitch Spivak and bassist Haji moves things along with no fuss, no muss, which is all the better for Hanna to spill guitar guts all over the place. "Red Sea" is the most egregious instance of string abuse, as sparkling noise overwhelms the basic pop song it begins with like a humpback consuming krill.
Hanna switches to slide for "Strings", which favors space to density, at least for its first couple of minutes. Still, even when the crunch does come, the vibe is decidedly astral. It's one of many songs that drive home just how perfect Sean McCabe's cover art is: Yuki at the center of the swirl, bathed in bright colors, with big swaths of melody slathered liberally across the proceedings.
And that's about as good a description as you'll get of Citrus. This is electric music in every sense of the word-- amplified, processed, and imbued with a neon glow. Comparisons to shoegazers of yore have their uses, as they're clearly influences, but I'd class Asobi Seksu nearer to Mahogany as a band that takes those influences and spins them into something special and unique.
— Joe Tangari, June 26, 2006