A couple of years ago, a Brighton three-piece with a Japanese-sounding name released Transparent Things, an album that (along with LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled release) got the entire hipster community to get up and dance. Two years later, Fujiya & Miyagi return with Lightbulbs, an album that is too boring to dance to but too in-your-face to ignore. Maintaining their mix of Massive Attack-style trip-hop and the American groove-first dance sensibility of James Murphy, Lightbulbs is by no means a poorly made album, just an uninteresting one. The band never leans too far toward either influence, finding a muddled middle road where neither the dance numbers (“Knickerbocker,” “Rook to Queen’s Pawn Six”) nor the downtempo tracks (“Goosebumps,” “Lightbulbs”) come close to making much of an impact. Cuts like the title track are obviously meant to serve as chillout, but they’re too bland and minimal to even operate as proper background music; at least some of the album’s more upbeat numbers (like “Hundreds & Thousands,” with its constant bass hum) could find their way onto the backend of some trendy dance party mix. But Lightbulbs is an album solely for the initiated, and newcomers to Fujiya & Miyagi would be better served by skipping this watered-down amalgamation and checking out the band’s influences instead.
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