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Transparent Things

Fujiya & Miyagi

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Album Review

Not in fact Japanese, and not in fact even a duo (besides "Fujiya" — keyboardist and beat-maker Steve Lewis — and "Miyagi" — guitarist and vocalist Dave Best — there's also "&," bassist Matt Hainsby), Fujiya & Miyagi draw from influences like Neu! and Talking Heads to create warm, looping guitar riff-driven organic dance music that fits nicely next to other mid-2000s alternative dance bands like the Teddybears, Hot Chip, and even LCD Soundsystem. Live guitars and keyboards layer over funky basslines and mechanized drums, while Best whisper-sings about, among other things, broken bones, feeling OK, star signs, and "just pretending to be Japanese." Six of the tracks on Transparent Things, their debut full-length, had previously appeared as vinyl 10"s, but here, redone and with the addition of three new songs (and a U.S. bonus cut, "Reeboks in Heaven"), the album gives more listeners the chance to hear what the Brighton, England-based band is capable of. Mostly, this means happily quirky but accessible pieces with plenty of syncopated rhythms, elongated syllables, and trilled Rs, courtesy of Best's cordially sexy voice. The first three tracks, "Ankle Injuries," "Collarbone," and "Photocopier," are all bright and upbeat and thoroughly catchy, and probably the strongest pieces on the album, some in part because Fujiya & Miyagi's aforementioned formula isn't as noticeable then as it is later. Not that Transparent Things is too samey or predictable, because it's not. The group has found something that works and does it well, with consistently enjoyable results, so much so that songs on which they break away from that, the lighter, indie rock-esque "Cylinders," for example, are more distracting than anything else. But when F&M stick to simple dance melodies and wound-up instrumental grooves, they're as good as anyone else out there.

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Brighton, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Despite the name, Fujiya & Miyagi are neither Japanese nor a duo. The electronic trio of singer and guitarist David Best, synth player Steve Lewis, and bassist Matt Hainsby are deeply indebted both to vintage '70s Krautrock and the '90s bands that were themselves influenced by the likes of Neu! and Kraftwerk, from Stereolab and Broadcast to Aphex Twin and the Orb. The group started in the coastal city of Brighton, England in 1999, when Best and Lewis first met in a pickup football game. Taking...
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Transparent Things, Fujiya & Miyagi
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