Fujiya & Miyagi – also known as the very un-Japanese and un-duo-like David Best, Steve Lewis and Matt Hainsby – are part of a indie/electronica scene, including the likes of Baikonour (aka Jean-Emmanuel Kreiger) and Imitation Electric Piano, that seem to share in Lee Adams a mercenary percussionist. Like Baikonour, Fujiya & Miyagi blend Krautrock influences to indie and funky electro, but where they differ to Jean-Emmanuel Kreiger’s work is that ‘Lightbulbs’ is almost entirely song-orientated. David Best’s weirdly enuciated vocals have a Japanese quality about them: imagine Can’s Damo Suzuki crossed with James Murphy’s half-spoken funk posturing. While the nods to motorik, funk and electro are deftly assembled, the result is not dissimilar to Hot Chip’s geeky blend of synth pop and white-boy r’n’b: the self-depreciating English humour, the tongue-in-cheek braggadocio, songs about domestic life (dishwashers and, well, lightbulbs).
After the fine one-two sucker punch of the opening two tracks, ‘Knickerbocker’ and ‘Uh’, Lightbulbs never quite regains its swaggering self-assurance. The former builds stealthily around chugging Krautrock, electronics, and the bizarre lyrics (“vanilla, strawberry, knickerbocker glory … I saw the ghost of Lena Zavaroni”), while ‘Uh’ out-Hot Chips Hot Chip with its pseudo-sexiness and funky electro. After this, the rest of the album is largely variations on the same themes, especially the latter, except for the aforementioned ‘Dishwasher’ (“when you’re pre-menstrual, I will play chill-out compilation instrumentals”), with its stripped down bass and skittering beats, and ‘Lightbulbs’, a ballad about being stuck in a domestic rut. While ‘Lightbulbs’ is fresh and compelling, one senses the best is yet to come.