Having recently come out of retirement to lend his golden touch to records by Daft Punk, Coldplay and Haim, Italian dance legend Giorgio Moroder continues his unlikely second wind with his first new studio album in three decades, Déjà Vu.
In recruiting a whole host of contemporary chart stars, most of whom weren’t even born when the last album came out (i.e., 1985’s collaborative LP with Phil Oakey), the undisputed Godfather of Electro ran the risk of playing second fiddle on his own record. However, from the moment his signature throbbing synths kick in on the instrumental opener, it’s clear that Déjà-Vu is still very much the Giorgio Moroder show.
Apart from the occasional brushes with the EDM sound that Moroder inadvertently helped to create (“I Do This For You,” “4 U With Love”), the 75-year-old’s production style doesn’t appear to have changed much during his lengthy absence. However it’s a testament to just how forward-thinking he was back in the 70s that the majority of these twelve tracks still sound completely fresh.
The hard-hitting and heavily vocodered electronica of lead single “74 is the New 24” could easily have been mistaken for the new Chemical Brothers release, while the Mikky Ekko-fronted “Don’t Let Go” and Charli XCX-featuring “Diamonds” both fit into today’s chart landscape without coming off as contrived attempts to be “down with the kids.”
The more deliberately retro-sounding tracks are just as appealing. Featuring the dramatic tones of pop’s most famous paper-bag-wearer, Sia, the title track blends Chariots of Fire-esque piano keys with slinky disco guitars and sweeping strings to create a glorious Studio 54 throwback, while Grammy winner Foxes and husky-voiced diva Kelis both shine on the Chic-esque “Wildstar” and funk jam “Back and Forth” respectively.
Moroder doesn’t always get it so spot-on. “Right Here, Right Now” is a disappointingly generic electro-pop number which tries but fails to recapture Kylie Minogue’s early 00s glories, and Britney Spears collaboration “Tom’s Diner” is a robotic reworking of the Suzanne Vega classic which lacks the subtleties or the charm of the original.
Déjà Vu inevitably isn’t as ground-breaking as Giorgio Moroder’s ’70s output, but it’s still a largely seamless transition back into the pop fold which could put most superstar DJs/producers a third of his age to shame.