It doesn’t take long into Deja Vu, Giorgio Moroder’s first studio album in three decades — certainly less than the two minutes, 36 seconds of 4 U With Love, its opening track — to realize just how profoundly the producer was ahead of the curve.
Since disco’s ascent in the ’70s, pop has long looked to the dance floor for what’s on the horizon, and that reliance on the club has become manifest in the proliferation of EDM (electronic dance music) acts currently dominating the pop charts.
Indeed, a strong argument could be made that every single song currently residing in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart owes a debt in some fashion to Moroder’s pioneering style.
History, nowhere more so than in pop music, repeats itself with a vengeance.
All of which makes listening to the aptly titled Deja Vu in 2015 a weird, dislocated experience, as Moroder is simultaneously an eminence grise and, ostensibly, still attempting to push pop music forward.
However, Moroder, who rejoined the mainstream conversation, in part, via Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning 2013 album Random Access Memories, isn’t alone in this venture.
His collaborators are A-list across the board: Sia, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue and even Britney Spears turn up to belt, coo and warble against Moroder’s chic, glossy, thumping compositions (he produces all 12 tracks here, with assists from Roman Luth, Raney Shockne, Sikow and Patrick Jordan-Patrikios).
Perhaps most incredibly, the 30-year lay-off between Moroder albums has allowed his austere yet melodic style to more or less emerge from hibernation as fresh now as it was when Ronald Reagan was president.
Context aside, Deja Vu is plenty diverting. Sia sets the title track soaring, while Minogue makes Right Here, Right Now a delectable piece of disco fever, and vocalist Matthew Koma’s falsetto deftly threads through Tempted’s giddy four-on-the-floor stomp. (Spears’ rewiring of Suzanne Vega’s signature Tom’s Diner is just odd.)
As for whether Deja Vu is a one-off victory lap or the beginning of Moroder’s second act, the answer may lie in the title of a song halfway through the album: 74 Is the New 24.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713