For Déjà Vu, Moroder and his team enlist an impressive group of collaborators that spans big names (Kylie Minogue, Kelis, Britney Spears) and bubbling-under newcomers (Foxes, Mikky Ekko). They're a strong bunch on paper, but gathering such a large pool of collaborators is also the record's first misstep, because each big personality pulls Déjà Vu too far in their own direction. Charli XCX's bouncy "Diamonds" could have been a track off her own Sucker LP, while "Right Here, Right Now" is boilerplate Kylie that sounds like a leftover from Aphrodite. There's no cohesive Moroder sound to band them all together. Conversely, when the guests lack that kind of star power, the tracks simply fall flat, from Foxes' limp '80s pop impression on "Wildstar" to Matthew Koma's sub-Maroon 5 bounce on the awful "Tempted." Kelis's "Back And Forth," buried all the way in the back of the record, is a waste of one of R&B's most charismatic vocalists.
On most of those songs, it's hard to pick out Moroder's influence. Maybe there's a funky guitar lick here or a string arrangement there, but these feel like phoned-in lip service to Moroder's legacy. That problem is exacerbated by the instrumentals, where Moroder clichés are pumped up to Avicii-like levels. "4 U With Love," "74 Is The New 24" and "La Disco" feel like they're pointlessly trying to appeal to the biggest audience possible. They're likely too soft for the EDM crowd, yet too generic for the disco heads.
There are two songs on Déjà Vu that actually live up to the album's potential. The title track, written with and featuring Sia, towers over the rest with its bold chorus and floaty disco guitars. It's hardly a Donna Summer jam, but it's a great pop song, which is more than you can say for the rest of Déjà Vu. The other moment is Moroder's deliciously weird collaboration with Britney Spears, a cover of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" touched with vocoder and a generally loony atmosphere only heightened by a spoken-word bridge from Moroder himself. Bellowing "love is the drug that makes you want to drink till the morning after," Moroder's interjection is a wonderfully campy moment that points to what Déjà Vu could have been if it had a more self-aware perspective—or maybe just more of Moroder himself.
One thing that's easy to forget amidst all the myth-making is that Moroder has never really been an arbiter of good taste. He made some of dance music's most important and innovative records, but his music was always resolutely commercial. And if you dig deep enough into his solo catalogue, you'll find pop that matches Déjà Vu's sugar levels. It's not much of a surprise to hear him sidle up to EDM, then, and it's hard to begrudge him any success. But the problem with Déjà Vu is that it's just not very good, nor is it an even passable bid for mainstream chart placements. In the lead-up to the LP's release, Moroder has been surprisingly loose, endearing and genuinely funny. Those interviews were the sign of a veteran artist coming back to music and having fun with it, and indeed acting younger than his 74 years. The album, unfortunately, doesn't carry any of those qualities. In fact, it hardly bears Moroder's personality at all.
Thu / 2 Jul 2015
01. 4 U with Love
02. Déjà Vu feat. Sia
03. Diamonds feat. Charli XCX
04. Don't Let Go feat. Mikky Ekko
05. Right Here, Right Now feat. Kylie Minogue
06. Tempted feat. Matthew Koma
07. 74 Is the New 24
08. Tom's Diner feat. Britney Spears
09. Wildstar feat. Foxes
10. Back and Forth feat. Kelis
11. I Do This for You feat. Marlene
12. La Disco