Living up to the title of electronic and synth music pioneer must be bit of a burden to carry upon your shoulders, but returning with a new solo album after four decades away can hardly be a walk in the park either. That’s the unenviable task faced by producer Giorgio Moroder, whose thirteenth studio set Déjà Vu is coming out 30 years after his last, and with some pretty hefty expectations.
As it happens, it’s Moroder’s legacy that proves to be as much the saving grace of his latest record. A career spanning 46 years has meant that there’s no shortage in people wanting to work with him, and it’s not often you’ll find a record with a roll call that combines the star wattage of established artists like Kelis and Britney Spears with the promising new talent of pop up-and-comers such as Matthew Koma and Marlene.
The success of this commercially-savvy curated approach is most evident – perhaps unsurprisingly – on the two offerings where only the artist and producer are listed as sole songwriters. The record’s title track delivers rushes of striking keys, synthesised beats and beckoning horn blasts whilst Sia knocks it out of the park with her usual indomitable defiance. Meanwhile, the exhilarating Back and Forth catches an invigorated Kelis commanding attention like hasn’t been done since her Flesh Tone era. It deserves – and it needs – to set dancefloors alight this summer.
Other highlights include Mikky Ekko‘s atmospheric soul searcher Don’t Let Go, Foxes‘ heartache disco dream Wildstar and Kylie‘s wanton lust-in on the record’s lead single Right Here Right Now. But even when listening to those admittedly great pop songs, you can’t help but note that persistent niggle in the back of the mind that the album isn’t quite what it was sold to be, and it’s a feeling that becomes more apparent during the collection’s three solo Moroderised instrumentals, 4 U With Love, 74 Is The New 24 and La Disco. Without any pop star up front, they showcase the full extent of Moroder’s expertise and expose how many of the collaborations barely skim the surface of his capabilities.
There are plenty of top-notch moments on Déjà Vu to satisfy any pop fan. It’s just a shame that a record that’s been 30 years coming has a tendency to dilute Moroder’s identity, relegating him to little more than a guest star on his own album.
Déjà Vu by Giorgio Moroder can be ordered here.