Fujiya & Miyagi - Artificial Sweeteners - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Fujiya & Miyagi - Artificial Sweeteners

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2014-05-05

After a long break, mercurial sonic goblins Fujiya & Miyagi are back with a new album and it seems like business as usual on their fifth long-player. ‘Acid to My Alkaline’ has that same motorik beat they perfected on early classic ‘Ankle Injuries’, while opening track ‘Flaws’ carries over the air of blackly comic menace from previous album Ventriloquizzing, with singer David Best hissing: “Your fundamental flaws/ seep through every single pore”.

None of this is a bad thing, of course, although F&M are one of those bands you expect the odd curveball from every now and then. On Artificial Sweeteners, it feels that they’ve, appropriately, sweetened up their sound a little by making it more dancefloor friendly. Arpeggiated rhythms form the core of both ‘Flaws’ and the excellent instrumental ‘Rayleigh Scattering’, while standout track ‘Little Stabs at Happiness’ is the most disco-orientated thing they’ve done.

This doesn’t mean, however, that F&M have hitched their wagon belatedly to the mainstream and created some sort of EDM monstrosity. Far from it; the music on Artificial Sweeteners belongs in sweaty, slightly dank basement clubs, soundtracking suppressed violence, bad drug meltdowns, sexual indiscretions and creeping alienation. The title track, for example, is like a 21st century retooling of Gary Numan’s late-70s robot love affairs, with Best relishing the fakeness of his lust-object.   

Elsewhere, ‘Tetrahydrofolic Acid’ is a veritable tribute to early Aphex Twin (just check out that title), his hooligan beats made to tart themselves up for a cheesy dance routine at the singles’ night, while some surprisingly new wavy guitar enlivens the otherwise slightly weak ‘Daggers’. All of this means there’s just enough variation on Artificial Sweeteners to make it a worthwhile progression, although it lacks the depth of Ventriloquizzing.

Perhaps F&M need to shake things up a little more fundamentally next time, but Artificial Sweeteners is still further out there than most bands can manage, packed with little quirks, sideways glances and the occasional playful shove that hides something more sinister. 

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