In a blue hue illustrated by the song title “16 Shades of Black and Blue,” Fujiya & Miyagi spin over to the cooler side of the color wheel. Ventriloquizzing sees the Brighton group expanded to a quartet, and performing their chill electro-pop with less pep as they step away from the warm reds and yellows of Lightbulbs into a shadowy haze. Assisted by producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver), their change in sound is much like the transformation that Air made after the “Sexy Boy” camp of Moon Safari for 10,000 Hz Legend, or the route Beck went on The Information, operating with icy electronics throughout. Even as Dave Best sings jovial lyrics like “you go up and down like a yo yo” or whispers about sipping minestrone soup, it’s with a degree of tension. At the same time, as Gary Numan will tell you, synthesized pop isn’t meant to be sunny. A mechanical environment lends itself to melancholy and paranoia. So the singles aren’t as obvious as 2008’s “Knickerbocker,” and the cuteness is replaced by suave aloofness; Ventriloquizzing is seamlessly somber, and all the better for it.
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover