Almost by definition, shoegaze singers go out of their way not to stand out, preferring instead to hide behind their band’s Cocteau Twins/My Bloody Valentine-styled haze, sometimes quite literally starring at their feet. But Asobi Seksu’s Yuki Chikudate, though she has the bashful demeanor of all good shoegaze singers, can’t help but draw attention to herself, thanks to her pop-star looks, her arty New York-style and, most importantly, her crystalline voice, which cuts through even the thickest wall of sound with the ease of a knife through warm butter. In a genre that’s barely evolved since 1991-and for the most part, proud of that-she’s a true revelation.
After a pair of traditionalist shoegaze records, including 2006’s majestic Citrus, Asobi Seksu’s Chikudate and James Hanna pruned out the excess layers of reverb, echoes and effects for their newest LP, Hush, which while not quite as mellow as its title suggests, sands away the group’s few lingering rough edges, polishing them to a dreamy sheen. Hanna’s guitars are more apt to chime than to rumble this time out, but the keyboards still squall celestially, as if transmitting otherworldly signals that can only be translated though Chikudate’s romantic sighs and coos.