Imagine that Fujiya & Miyagi are mask-wearing technicians dissecting music, keen to magnify particles of sound to create a pulsing antidote to the ordinary. They speak in tongues, using language as a rhythm, picking words that sound good, rhyming ‘jigsaws’ with ‘carnivores’.

Their songs are incisive snapshots of real lives that make household appliances sound threatening. They are steeped in vintage music from evocative krautrock to deep soul, with wafts of early Human League synth, Floydian Englishness and the throbbing groove of Tom Tom Club, all filtered for modern times.

In total, Fujiya & Miyagi don’t really sound like anything. Instead, they sound like everything condensed into perfectly arranged three minute chunks of infectious pop music, a strange hybrid of James Brown on Valium and Wire gone pop. Or maybe Serge Gainsbourg with a PhD in electronics backed by David Byrne’s Eno-produced scratchy guitar mixed by MF Doom. It’s Darwinism gone mad.

Formed in 2000 as an electronic duo of David Best (guitars and vocals) and Steve Lewis (synths, beats, programming), they released Electro Karaoke In The Negative Style two years later, a minimal electronic set it hangs eerily on Best’s distinctive whispered vocal. Adding bass player Matt Hainsby in 2004, they released a series of ten inch EPs that took them to the hearts of fanzineland. Gathered together these parables of personal injury, both physical and mental, made up three quarters of the well-received (Pitchfork, NME, MOJO, etc) album Transparent Things in 2006. Named after a Nabokov brain dump on the relationship between the past and the present. It sums them up.

A 12-inch, Uh, further concentrated their sound. A set of vocal ticks, a funky bass and a storyline about a relationship as prickly as two porcupines, it made small talk sound sinister over an infectious groove. It was the perfect set up for their first album proper, Light Bulbs – imagine 11 classic ideas clicking on above your head, now with real drums in places, courtesy of Lee Adams, and the picture is complete.

Fujiya & Miyagi stay away from lyrical themes that have been done to death. Using old synths to punctuate their beautifully-observed anecdotes on romantic triumphs and disasters, heroes and villains and the world at large, their rhythms palpitate to produce modern symphonies like no-one else. Light Bulbs is a journey littered with fragmented images, anecdotes from the sublime to the ridiculous, blurry stories that you feel you shouldn’t have overheard. Each track an aural contamination set to itch your inner ear every waking moment.

“I’ll never be Big Maybelle,” says David Best of his unique singing style. True, but as a stylist fronting a band inspired by their evolution, plundering the past but set in the future, Fujiya & Miyagi’s Light Bulbs carves a niche of its own. This is truly contagious music, a completely unique take on modern pop music that’s completely their own.



Track by Track:

Knickerbocker Glory
A vibration of words that sound good, touching on lost innocence, child star Lena Zavaroni, the very first tragedy of X Factor-style excess, and the joy of multi-storeyed ice cream sundaes at Woolacombe Bay. knickerbocker mixes my sister's and my memories of watching lena zavaroni on tv whilst eating ice cream as children.

It stops, it starts, it stutters with vocal embellishments making a rhythmic home for some funky bass, with everyday time-saving, no beating around the bush, one-liners as shorthand for a romance gone wrong.

Based on the flickering black and white Bresson movie, the perfect stolen metaphor for ideas purloined, with intricate tinkling percussive momentum, a hooky idea with a conscience.

Steel City synths add swathes of texture as we escort a goosebumped couple through a park full of Stella Artois and stale beefburger-addled lowlifes proving that love blossoms between many thorns.

Rook To Queen’s Pawn Six
Loose funk, with a playful guitar rattle, rolling it’s ‘R’s through the story of chess eccentric Bobby Fischer who’s caught in a cold war Bond-esque challenge with computers and a bug in his teeth.

Sore Thumb
A strutting funk celebration of heroic Viv Stanshall whose Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead has him sounding like Beefheart especially on the psychedelic rumba of the justifiably namechecked Strange Tongues

A cry for non-veg normality, where the most mundane claustrophobic conversations, the creation of chill out compilations and painting the walls magnolia sound like a recipe for disaster.

Any song about synchronised swimmers has to have a pin prick sharp syncopation, a rhythmic anchor behind a series of oh ah uh ahs and a juddering melody line. Just like this.

More tales of difficult harmony. Every broken hearted relationship failure involves splitting the contents of the record, book and video collection, but what about the cat.

Light Bulbs
An everyday story of odd couples and role reversals punctuated with a synth that sounds like a funereal northern brass band heralding the need to get back into a similar rut. ASAP.

Hundreds And Thousands
To summarise Light Bulbs, a four minute synth-powered wrap-up instrumental where the credits roll and the cast take their plaudits. Let’s return to track one and its theme of ice cream simplicity.