album reviews

Fujiya & Miyagi
Deaf Dumb & Blind (2008)

Some of the best songs on Fujiya & Miyagi's 2006 release "Transparent Things" were the uptempo, danceable ones, and that formula holds true on "Lightbulbs" -- the album-opening dance track "Knickerbocker" is the catchiest tune on the album. Vocalist David Best is in rare form with his non sequiturs: He somehow segues from ice cream flavors to the ghost of child star Lena Zavaroni, while the instrumental closer "Hundreds & Thousands" makes use of a keyboard melody to keep the album's longest song (clocking in at just over four minutes) chugging along.

Unfortunately, it's the music between those two tracks that falters: Fujiya & Miyagi desperately want to be a Krautrock band, but they haven't figured out how to make music that's consistently compelling. Much of "Lightbulbs" feels like a lounge version of Neu!, and Best's breathy singing certainly doesn't help (his protracted moan on the love ballad "Goosebumps" is particularly egregious). One wishes for more moments like Best's whispered scat "Pah! Pah! Pah! Pah! Rakataka UNH!" on the otherwise drab "Pussyfooting." That vocal percussion is the highlight of "Lightbulbs"; he uses the same syllables to kick off "Uh," but even recycled, those percussive sounds are what give these songs much of their structure and momentum.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 13 February 2009, Page WE07
.: Lightbulbs on