I've been a fan of Asobi Seksu for years. Citrus was, and remains, a revelation of how to take shoegaze and actually make it rock. It was intensely melodic, and a whole lot of fun. Fluorescence, their fourth album, is a more unpredictable beast.

Fluorescence opens with 'Coming Up', which can only be described as the perfect sonic marriage between industrial era David Bowie and the effortlessly melodic pop stylings of later ABBA. Later tracks draw inspiration from mid-90s guitar pop that ruled the American airwaves, as well as from the noisier side of My Bloody Valentine. These disparate sounds do not fit together instinctually, and the record feels at times like a collection of recordings from different eras of a band, not a single cohesive product. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In many tracks on the album, lead singer Yuki Chikudate has sacrificed vocal clarity for baroque frills. In the first half of 'Trails', she seems to be searching for her melody, as if trying new ideas even in the recording process, and doesn't find it until the second half of the song. This is a common problem. Throughout the record, she stretches her considerable vocal talents as far as they can go, and while the effort is impressive, the results are not consistent.

The best tracks are the ones that start off strong and stay strong, rather than the slow-burners. 'Perfectly Crystal' and 'Leave the Drummer Out There' have a lot of atmosphere and wouldn't be out of place in a John Hughes film.

Asobi Seksu has always been a tremendously energetic band, and for better or worse, I get the impression that they're trying to restrain some of that energy, whether for the sake of experimentation or for dynamic variation. But that energy seems ready to explode in every song, and it's only when they let it release that the songs reach their full potential. I have a feeling these songs are going to be tremendous live, but I can't shake the feeling that on the record they're trying to be someone else, not someone in particular, but anyone other than Asobi Seksu.

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