Judging a book by its cover, or an album cover in this case, won’t get listeners far with Fujiya & Miyagi: a Brighton Brit trio, not a Japanese duo as the name suggests, deeply influenced by German Krautrock, British shoegaze, and a dash of American ’90s rock. An obvious mélange of cultural and musical tastes, Fujiya & Miyagi’s third full-length album Lightbulbs adopts the same multi-influenced characteristics as, well, a group of English blokes with a Japanese name who play German-influenced tunes. A quick glance down the track listing and a handful of select lyrics suggest that the songwriting team of synth player Steve Lewis and frontman/guitarist David Best are the kind of well-educated, prim and proper Englishmen depicted in the Sherlock Holmes series. Titles like “Pterodactyls,” an extinct reptile of the Jurassic period, and philosophical lyrics, “If today is the same as yesterday/Tomorrow will be the same as today,” show why the English may have mastered a smarter rock than their American counterparts.
And at the risk of sounding exceptionally homoerotic, Best’s voice is damn sexy. His raspy vocals make fruit and ice cream sound naughty in opener “Knickerbocker,” and he moans in the onomatopoetic “Uh” with all of the pronunciation skills stressed in grammar school. Lightbulbs shows production unafraid to break free from droning rock, exemplified with the in-sync fingersnaps of “Pickpocket,” the jazzy standup-bass sounds in “Dishwasher,” the scatting of “Pussyfooting,” and the Ratatatesque instrumental “Hundreds & Thousands.”