Daft but infectious debut by Norwegian producer and Franz collaborator
Though he’s been DJing, producing and remixing for a decade now, Todd Terje is a man so anonymous, even he doesn’t care how you pronounce his surname. “I stopped correcting people many years ago,” he recently told an interviewer, with a shrug. But the Norwegian producer’s debut album is packed with personality, its retro-futuristic, cosmic-disco grooves forming a clear picture of Terje as life and soul of the party.
The whole thing is wrapped in a cloak of daftness, from the cover art’s illustration of a louche Terje, like an offcut from a Stella Artois advert, to the ridiculous title. In case you didn’t get the message, the title track repeats the words, “It’s album time, it’s album time” ad nauseam, like a theme tune.
Indeed, it feels as though the primary inspiration on Terje’s work is that of the TV theme through the ages. The baroque keys, swirling disco strings and pensive synths of ‘Leisure Suit Preben’ are built for a Miami detective show, ‘Delorean Dynamite’ has the tense mood of the music from the big-money round on an ’80s daytime TV game show, and ‘Swing Star Part I’ evokes the synth-driven soundtracks of thriller maestro John Carpenter. Ironically, the one that sounds least like a TV theme is titled ‘Inspector Norse’.
The pace switches halfway through with a cover of Robert Palmer’s ‘Johnny And Mary’ that would have slipped easily on to the Drive soundtrack, with whispered guest vocals from Roxy Music legend Bryan Ferry. Odd, but by this point, not unexpectedly so.
Despite its apparent desperation to be considered a piece of fluff and nonsense, Terje’s infectious electronic pop beds itself deep in the brain. Terje is one of the people Franz Ferdinand called on to assist with last year’s surprisingly fresh ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’, and it’s hard to imagine the band pilfering Snoop Dogg’s ‘Who Am I (What’s My Name?)’ for ‘Evil Eye’ quite so brazenly without Terje egging them on. Applying that spirit to his own music, he’s turned in an electronic album that’s full of character without resorting to robot costumes or Pharrell bloody Williams. So it’s worth learning the following: it’s pronounced ter-yeah, and it’s his time now.