Widely regarded as the king of the summer jam, Norwegian DJ/producer Todd Terje has been at the forefront of the nu-disco revival for the best part of a decade. But his mainstream success has so far been restricted to the jaunty “Eurodans” bassline that Robbie Williams sampled on his UK number one “Candy” and “Evil Eye,” the Talking Heads-meets-Hammer Horror theme he produced for Franz Ferdinand’s latest album.
His first studio effort, the knowingly-titled It’s Album Time, suggests the 31-year-old is quite content to remain something of a cult figure. Indeed, with “Johnny and Mary,” a collaboration with the ever-smooth Bryan Ferry which transforms Robert Palmer’s early new wave hit into a haunting slice of ambient downtempo (and the only vocal-led offering here), a Daft Punk-esque wave of chart success doesn’t appear to be a major goal.
Of course, fans of cosmic disco instrumentals will find much to enjoy among the album’s twelve tracks, none more so than on the creeping basslines, sweeping strings and starry-eyed synths of “Leisure Suit Preben,” a gloriously retro-camp affair which sounds like it should be played over the credits of a 1980s romance/detective series. Elsewhere, “Svensk Sas” and “Alfonso Muskedunder” are both addictive sun-soaked forays into percussive jazz territory, indicating that Todd Terje isn’t particularly concerned with all the “beach bar soundtrack” criticism, as does the Balearic chill of “Strandbar.”
It’s About Time might appear destined to grace the shores of everywhere from Rio to Ibiza this summer, but there’s not much to justify its long gestation period. “Oh Jay” is essentially little more than a retread of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” stretched out to seven minutes, while “Inspector Norse” and “Delorean Dynamite” follow the same throbbing synth formula to which nearly every electro wizard has succumbed since the release of the Drive soundtrack.
The fact that Todd Terje is held in such high regard has perhaps skewed expectations for his first long player. But while It’s Album Time offers very little you haven’t heard before, it’s still difficult to resist its carefree old-school charms.