• Telex
  • Lookng for Saint Tropez (Sire) 1979 
  • Neurovision (Sire) 1980 
  • Sex (PVC) 1981 
  • Birds and Bees (UK Interdisc) 1982 
  • Looney Tunes (Atlantic) 1988 

This Belgian synth trio — specializing in suave Euro-disco — is at once a bland dance machine and a reasonably clever techno-pop team. Deadly slow adaptations (with artificial-sounding processed vocals) of “Rock Around the Clock” and Plastic Bertrand’s “€a Plane pour Moi” make Looking for Saint Tropez amusingly noteworthy; the originals, while faster, are mundane and one-dimensional.

Neurovision takes the same approach, giving Sly Stone’s “Dance to the Music” the full Telex treatment amid another batch of boring originals. (If the group’s use of synthesizers weren’t as dull as technically possible, their records might be a lot better.) Sex adds a novel element by employing Ron and Russell Mael as lyricists; the collaboration resembles Sparks’ work with Giorgio Moroder in form, if not content. Unfortunately, Telex’s languid creations lack the spunk to keep up with the warped wordplay of “Sigmund Freud’s Party,” “Exercise Is Good for You” and “Carbon Copy.” (Birds and Bees replaces three of Sex‘s tracks with subsequent singles.)

Whatever Telex did during its ’80s vacation, Looney Tunes is a significantly different kettle of ducks. Treading a jokey electronic path somewhere between Art of Noise, Kraftwerk and Yello, the trio concocts simple dance grooves with absurd chanted lyrics and then starts emptying its bag of sound effects, chucking in everything but you know what. Ironically, “Spike Jones” — named for someone to whom the group obviously owes a conceptual debt here — is one of the flimsy album’s least inspired collages.

[Ira Robbins]