(4 out of 5)
While most bands move further and further away from their influences as time goes on, there are a few acts who actually move closer to the sounds that inspired them to make music in the first place. In the case of HUSH, NYC’s Asobi Seksu has made a disc that almost defiantly walks right up to the line of blatantly laying their influences out on the table. Opening number “Layers” could – with a little more glossolalia from vocalist Yuki Chikudate – easily be slotted onto a P2P network as a lost B-side to the Cocteau Twins’ “Love’s Easy Tears;” it is both a statement of intent and a remarkably beautiful piece of music, with chiming guitars and echoey, otherworldly singing. And, between the equally Cocteaus-indebted “Meh No Mae” (which swirls in a little My Bloody Valentine bombast) and the Slowdive-y melancholy of “I Can’t See,” the parade of influences proudly marches on. Ironically, there’s a liberated sense to HUSH that most likely comes from Asobi Seksu finally giving up on trying to convince people they weren’t the sum of their influences; by finally indulging the contents of their personal Top Ten Lists, the group has pushed forth a dynamic and quite unique identity. The straightforward pop dynamics of cuts like “Glacially” and “Familiar Light” are imbued with an atmospheric majesty that could only come from diving into the 4AD catalog, but the way Asobi Seksu guilelessly weaves girl-group melodies, a straightforward rhythmic approach and a bit of garage-pop simplicity into these ethereal textures winds up making for a fantastic hour of dream-pop perfection.