Giorgio Moroder: Déjà Vu

Once he was the emperor of edm-pop, is there still life left in Giorgio Moroder?

- Legends… do they disappoint us when they return from their long exile or do they remind us of why they are legends and give us new things to make our lauding of them all the more pertinent? Giorgio Moroder is a legend – he virtually created electronic dance music, his name says “disco” and he has three Academy Awards, several Grammy Awards and a very, very healthy bank account to back that up. The French robots, Daft Punk, breathed new life into the septuagenarian Euro-disco, '80’s film soundtrack king on their Random Access Memories disc and voila, the Moroder name is back on the music lists of the world for the first time in thirty years.

To be fair, this album is not a classic and it’s copped some very sour reviews already, though this has a lot to do with many of the reviewers being just a bit too cool for school and wanting to make sure that legends like Moroder know that time has moved on and that they don’t really belong in the modern world. Unlike Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar I’m not here to either praise nor bury the legend but to offer some balance, after all this man does still have some infectious dance-pop to offer, especially when the charts are awash with manufactured karaoke television show no-bodies and appallingly bad rap cum R&B wannabes. Moroder’s Déjà Vu is a bit like Wales – that’s the country not the endangered sea mammals – it’s got hills and valleys, one track makes you think, “yep, this is good, keep listening” and the next is very… well… “Next!”

Moroder has collaborated not just with a range of contemporary pop-dance vocalists (from the stellar names of Sia, Kylie Minogue, Kelis and Charlie XCX to the less familiar Mikky Ekko, Matthew Koma & Marlene Strand) but fellow producers Roman Lüth, Raney Shockne and Patrick Jordan-Patrikios (who are collectively responsible for both the best and worst songs on the album). That’s what’s annoying about this album: someone can offer up a catchy pop tune and then plumb the depths with some truly shocking production. It's never more in evidence than the album’s worst example - Suzanne Vega’s sublime Tom’s Diner gets a robotic, flat and colourless auto-tuned essaying from the queen of mime, Britney Spears.

Moving on to what are the album’s better tracks, you can look no further than the female artists -who seem to have always had the better treatment at the hands of Moroder, throughout his career- (his last solo album in 1985 with the vocals of The Human League’s Philip Oakley notwithstanding) and it’s the pair of Australians – Sia and Kylie Minogue who have been given something worthwhile to perform here. The album’s first single, Right Here, Right Now with Minogue on vocals, is definitely strong and worthy of inclusion on her classic 2001 album Fever. Sia Furler can almost not put a foot wrong these days and even though the title track -co-written by her with the legend himself- does have a little bit of the “phoned in” feel about it, it does have more to recommend it than the tracks by Marlene (I Do This For You) and Foxes (Wildstar) which have, and I say it in a caring, sharing sense, a very Eurovision-esque style about them – and not in a douze pointe winning way either. Both Charlie XCX (Diamonds) and Kelis (Back and Forth) have moments, with the Kelis track being stronger simply because her vocal style is better matched to Moroder’s classic pop-EDM.
Mention has to be made of the three tracks without vocalists (just Moroder’s own voice, heavily synthesized) which call to mind his successful film soundtrack career (74 is the new 24 –whatever that means…) and briefly his high points with Donna Summer (La Disco” and 4 U With Love). That’s when you glimpse the legend. Still, it’s surrounded by a lot of very average stuff and he’s competing these days with the likes of David Guetta, Aviici and Martin Garrix who have learned from him and surpassed him musically. So, Déjà Vu is an apt title. It starts at the album cover with its mid-'80's colour scheme, layout and styling and ends with you thinking, “Yep I have heard this before;” but, then, like comfort food, is that such a bad thing? Or is it only a bad thing when a legend that you’ve admired for decades delivers it pretending it’s something fresh and new? I can’t slam this album as hard as others have done but #srlsy Giorgio, I am sure you can do better than this, even if you have given my ear several ear-worms for the coming weeks. Maybe that’s what you intended all along...

- Blair Martin.

Album Details

Album Title: Déjà Vu
Artist: Giorgio Moroder
Record Label: (RCA / Sony)