As Tiga well knows, pop music is largely about fantasy. The idea of escaping from everyday life, even if only for three and a half minutes, is so appealing. The thought you could be anyone you wanted, go with anyone you wanted, do anything you wanted – all that gets packed into a few verses and a chorus… or, if you’re Tiga, some grooves that last a little longer.
This is his first full length solo artist album in seven years, and his first since signing with Ninja Tune’s Counter label. It speaks of a fresh creative reboot, a set of contrasting but complementary influences, but above all it speaks of fun. Tiga’s fantasies and thoughts are always laced with good humour and self-deprecating wit, and are delivered here over a set of grooves that work a treat for mind and body.
Rules is perhaps the most immediately appealing for both, and the tongue is firmly in the cheek as Tiga instructs his listener to “never mess with your teeth if they’re fucked up”, to “never dance with your hands up”, and “never fall in love with a Virgo” – the artist dissing his own star sign. The track was made with good friend Matthew Dear, and deals with Tiga’s life-long compulsion to make lists. It’s the Virgo in him for sure – and is both amusing and charming in equal measure.
Another friend to guest on the album is Scissor Sisters vocalist Jake Shears, who recorded his vocal to the whirry disco cut Make Me Fall In Love while on a boat wearing a thong. It is another sign that Tiga doesn’t take himself too seriously, though at the same time revealing himself as something of an incorrigible romantic where music is concerned. Planet E is more straightforward, a collaboration with Hudson Mohawke that enjoys a state of mind rather than paying a tribute to Carl Craig’s record label. Bugatti is brilliant electro pop, a celebration of Back To The Future-style materialism delivered with deadpan vocals.
There are elements here that Craig would appreciate, for Tiga makes his electro with side helpings of soul, techno and pure pop, well produced but often using elements of classic analogue sounds. The album itself is well structured, deliberately countering those with short attention spans as it flits through the styles.
Having So Much Fun is a slower track with a thoughtful side, and so is Plush, a song Tiga considered dropping but left in to represent David Bowie, and his “ultimate private barometer for greatness”. It is a fitting tribute. Meanwhile Don’t Break My Heart looks at the darker side of love, one of the more emotional tracks on the album; brushed with brooding synthesizers, it leaves a lump in the throat by the end.
The lyrics are excellent throughout. The punch line of the funky Plush is that “I don’t need a calculator, to know I’m on the see-ya-later”, followed by “I don’t need a secretary… to tell me that you’re very very… plush”. This captures the overriding impression of No Fantasy Required, its sense of no holds barred fun, clever puns and insights and an enduring positivity on the part of its author.
Tiga comes across as a smart, funny and fashionable author, well turned out at all times. It just so happens his music is the same.