In the mid-'90s, it seemed like there were armies of woman-fronted, shoegaze-inflected outfits conquering the pop charts. The Sundays, the Cranberries and the forgettable Frente! all spiked the fuzzy dreaminess of My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins with pop hooks that made them irresistible to an audience burned out on the aggressive self-loathing of grunge. New York-based quartet Asobi Seksu (which supposedly translates as "playful sex") checks the Cliffs Notes on that era before drifting off into its own cotton-balls-and-cupcakes fantasy. The band often draws comparisons to Puffy AmiYumi and old-school twee-shes like Heavenly -- thanks largely to bilingual chanteuse Yuki Chikudate's innocent-on-the-outside whispers and wails -- but guitarist/songwriter James Hanna, bassist Haji and drummer Mitch Spivak inject the international pop tart with a syringe full of psychedelic swizzles and hard-rockin' beats. Initially engaging but wearing thin under scrutiny, Asobi Seksu is exactly the kind of sweet-and-sour pop confection that clubbers and critics eagerly and impulsively sink their teeth into before quietly but unequivocally renouncing it as a guilty pleasure mere months later.
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