ALBUM: It’s Album Time
ARTIST: Todd Terje
Grab a drink, it's happy hour.
Todd Terje's debut album has been ten years in the making. And rightfully so - it couldn't have come at a better time. As if he prophesied the call of the enigmatic duo, Daft Punk, and their own resurgence last year with Random Access Memories, Terje popped up out of nowhere in 2012 with an EP, It’s the Arps, featuring a stark and vibrant approach to this unique gem of a genre. From nu-disco, to dizzyingly hallucinogenic pop, to, well, whatever Terje has on his mind at the moment, the EP provided a glimpse at those prepared to answer Daft Punk's call to "give life back to music." Although the French duo created an undeniably excellent record, where they were perhaps too self-indulgent or even somewhat deadpan, Terje is all-encompassing and appears to be endlessly open to influences and free-association. Where they felt trapped in their own soundscape, Terje is free to explore. And so "it's album time."
On this record, Terje forgoes any sense of self-importance, any pragmatism, any inkling of cynicism, in an attempt to wholly embrace whimsy. From the silly, yet immediately engaging, "Intro," complete with "it's album time" chants and an explosion, of all things, to end the track, the cartoonish roots of the record are obvious. “Leisure Suit Preben" follows the fictional protagonist of this album in a an equally merry way, almost bouncing along in a gallop alongside the man's drunken stride as he heads for a night out in the town. There's a keen sense of pace in the songwriting, strings fluttering in and out of focus, aesthetic shifts mid-track, but it's all grounded in a higher understanding of what it means to let loose. Even as "Preben Goes to Acapulco," the night airy with keys scattering across the soundtrack and the rhythmic bass subtly carrying his swagger, and then finds himself in the happy hour twilight of "Strandbar," Terje manages to carve a cohesive course for the disconcerted man.
But however resourceful Terje is in channeling his sense of joy, in order for him to reach the unfiltered adoration of "Oh Joy" or "Inspector Norse," he realizes the importance of a centerpiece to provide perspective. And so with help from Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry, he manages to recreate Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary," with more brooding nostalgia than the rest of the album combined. It's a fantastic move in terms of sequencing, and only helps Terje help us, "Preben," "Johnny," and whoever else is paying attention, understand that happiness is in the uninhibited.
In every frantic build-up, or beautifully mellow lull, Terje continues to emphasize his new vision. It's Album Time plays like an afternoon of whimsy leading into a night of mischief, running into a bit of existential woe, and then embracing it all - without a hint of cynicism. There is only Terje feeling right at home and in his groove; even in the most '70s influenced jams ("Delorean Dynamite"), or the bizarre swing of "Svensk Sas," or the Pink Panther noir-turned-franctic prog- rock aesthetic of "Alfonso Muskendunder.”
The self-aware album cover, album title, and song titles are all hard to ignore, and Terje doesn't want you too. He wants you to embrace the aesthetic and "elevate your body" to this elevator music (his words, not mine). I mean, even that pun should help us better understand where he's coming from - nonsensical humor, unbridled whimsy, a love for life. So settle in with your cocktail, everything's groovy here in Terje's lounge, and "lose yourself to dance," for real this time. And with scattered applause closing out “Inspector Norse,” here’s to hoping it doesn’t take another decade for an encore.
“It’s album time”