The word Fluorescence brings to mind two things: one of them is that harsh, sallow brightness they only allow in public middle schools, and the other is that cool, otherworldly bio-luminescent thing certain mushrooms possess. Similarly, parts of Asobi Seksu's fifth studio album can feel too awkward and flat to be real until the band plunges the listener into something genuinely weird.
Fluorescence is more experimental than Asobi Seksu's previous albums, less straightforward and definitely has more of a WTF quality to it. The beginning of tracks like "My Baby" and "In My Head" sound like they feature Keyboard Cat as a guest soloist. But when Yuki Chikudate's vocals seem too Shangri-La's-pubescent to be sincere, the synth too ball-gamey to be anything other than ironic, the music exhales into a dense, shoegazey climax. Reverb hits Chikudate's vocals and its like fresh newsprint it's exposed to rain. Her voice drips across the driving, undergirding rhythm, and then, finally, it works. "Sighs" and "Trance Out" sound more like the old Asobi Seksu, maybe something off Citrus: They're the sort of lovely and gritty jingle-pop songs Asobi Seksu's done in the past, and they kind of make you wonder why the band even entertained those isolated, tacky synths so much on this album. But in the end, Asobi Seksu still does what they're best at on Fluorescence—delicate and at times howling jam-out fuzz-pop.