"Ragysh," "Inspector Norse," "Strandbar," and, reaching way back, "Eurodans"—Todd Terje has been responsible for a largely untouchable run of fun, floor-filling singles in recent years. For some artists, that might result in a lot of pressure once the time came to release a debut album, but as the title (and artwork, to a certain degree) of the Norwegian disco king's first full-length suggests, Terje hasn't attempted to compensate by taking on a more serious tone. Part victory lap, part prog-disco voyage, It's Album Time finds Terje triumphantly unafraid to continue simply being himself, as the man's musical ability and wealth of production personality prove to be more than capable of filling an album's worth of listening.
"It's album time," the titular vocal refrain of the album's opening effort cheekily reminds us, and from there, Terje quickly moves into more album-type songs with the jazzy "Leisure Suit Preben" and the laid-back, solo-flushed "Preben Goes To Acapulco"—two tracks that surely aren't intended to fill the same dancefloor slots that his lauded singles have. Terje also uses the extended album form to introduce new layers of instrumentation to his production palette; lush string arrangements come in and out of the fold, while sharp guitars (both acoustic and electric), rich pianos, clavinets, and hand-played drum kits help fill out his expertly crafted constructions. There are even touches of vocals to be heard here—wordless "oohs" and "ahhs" give "Svensk Saas" and "Alfonso Muskedunder" a loungey feel that pairs nicely with their jazzy Latin rhythms, while "Johnny and Mary" enlists the airy croon of Roxy Music co-founder Bryan Ferry to lead the cover of Robert Palmer's classic song. Standing as the record's only true moment of introspection, "Johnny and Mary" is the LP's biggest curveball, but the patient, intimate production is crafted far too well to even come close to derailing the album.
It's Album Time doesn't just serve as a platform for new and more eccentric explorations from Terje, as a number of his past triumphs find new homes here too. "Strandbar"—without a doubt, one of 2013's best tracks—has its "Disko" version retooled into a more condensed package early on, while "Swing Star Part I" and "Swing Star Part II" (from 2012's It's the Arps EP) help launch the LP's final push while reminding listeners of Terje's more synth-obsessed side. Of course, "Inspector Norse," the man's crowning dancefloor achievement, makes an appearance here too, closing out It's Album Time because, really, what other Terje track could?
For those that come to It's Album Time simply seeking a new dancefloor jam or two, Terje does offer up a pair of unapologetically party-minded productions that easily could have led their own single packages. The first, "Delorean Dynamite," carries on the lineage laid by "Inspector Norse" and "Strandbar," its six-plus minutes allowing ample time for Terje to flawlessly piece together a driving, synth-streaked voyage into motorik disco. Appearing later on, the methodically elongated "Oh Joy" finds Terje taking on a bit of Patrick Cowley-indebted hi-NRG disco, lacing the pulsing tune with drifting chords, stringed stabs, restless synths, and an bevy of percussion. Together, the songs prove that the Norwegian producer's dancefloor dominance is in no danger of waning.
In the months leading up to It's Album Time's release, it seemed difficult to conjure up very many concrete expectations for the LP, other than that it would be, well, good. In many ways, Terje's debut long-player exceeds that simple prediction: It's Album Time is not just good. It's great. Adventurous but not selfish, intelligent but not difficult, a victory lap of sorts but hardly congratulatory, Terje's first album is astoundingly balanced and astonishingly broad, a wider serving of the man's artistic vision that ultimately proves just as satisfying as his single servings have in the past.