Loosely translated, Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar means…uh…something at a local bar. I have no idea what Casiokids are singing about; I never took a Spanish class, let alone boned up on my Norwegian. It’s about love, or heartbreak probably, although it could be about hair-loss or the importance of separating the green and brown glass in the recycling bin.
When it sounds this good, lyrical translations are irrelevant. Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar is a great dance record, each thrumming song equally suited for the bedroom as well as the ballroom. The sound is full, rich and organic, which makes it sound like a yoghurt. Keyboards burble like bathtub flatulence. On standout track “Fot I Hose,” beats build and boil over into a galloping groove that’s just this side of wicked, before bombing subwoofers with tumbling, rumbling bass lines.
Sung in a gentle Norwegian lilt, the male vocals soft falsetto purrs as another lofty instrument, added sparingly, touchingly, and as perfect accompaniment to half the album’s tracks. What distinguishes this album from its electronic ilk is how well crafted and contained the band’s enthusiasm is throughout these eight arrangements. The fourth track, “Finn Bikkjen,” illustrates the kid’s concept best, innocently and sophisticated chimes and skidding rhythms over five gleeful minutes. Each song is a composition, in which nothing feels gratuitous.
I picked up this album based on the strength of the attractiveness of the cover, an arbitrary selection method I once used with Barry Manilow’s second album, with far limited rewards. In it, a young woman is depicted, eyes clenched, her teeth fused in a gummy grin, as her pale Scandinavian features protrude from a matted rabbit-suit. It’s an unselfconscious image of a kid playing dress-up, reflective of the album’s unmitigated, spirited confidence.