Beyond Andrea Bocelli and Pavarotti, it seems as though Americans are largely unaware of any other Italian music. Thank god or whoever Giorgio Moroder is back after 30 years with the aptly titled album Déjà Vu. Using a common tactic of "older artists" of late, Moroder uses the vocal talents of such established powerhouses as Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears (the American Kylie Minogue), Charli XCX and Kelis.
Opening with a track that welcomes the audience with the appropriately named "4 U With Love," Moroder establishes the tone of what promises to be an exuberant record. Lending an updated feel to a 70s sound, it's almost as though "the godfather" of electronic music, disco and anything dance-oriented never left us to begin with. The second track, "Déjà Vu," featuring Sia offers Moroder's take on how the perhaps overrated singer ought to sound--which is to say like a new-fangled Diana Ross (but, of course, the sound of "Titanium" can't help but be hinted at throughout this track).
"Diamonds" featuring Charli XCX picks up the tempo and provides one of the most dance-friendly beats of the record. XCX's distinctive voice announces, "Cut out with scissors made of starlight/Hold tight, we're sleeping with the city tonight/Lost in your spectrum and your colors/You're all bright/No, you're nothing like the others." Mixing diamond metaphors with ones that pertain to partying all night, it somehow works thanks to Moroder's glistening beats. Slowing down the pace is "Don't Let Go" featuring Mikky Ekko (best known for collaborating with Rihanna on "Stay"). A lush ballad set to Moroder's typically fast pace, the song makes for one of the most unique on Déjà Vu, particularly since it's one of the only songs with male vocals.
In a combination that feels as natural as chocolate and peanut butter, the pairing of Kylie Minogue and Moroder on "Right Here, Right Now" (not to be confused with the Fat Boy Slim track of the same name) is so smooth and so seamless that you wonder how it never existed before. Considering much of Moroder's musical compositions already sound like a Minogue song, the pairing is only natural. As expressed by Minogue, "Nothing ever felt as good as this/There's nowhere else but right here, right now."
"Tempted" featuring Matthew Kona possesses the closest sound resembling funk on the album. Again possessing the 70s aural brand as only Moroder could make work in the twenty-first century, "Tempted" is freshness in music form. The repetition of "Burn for me, burn for me" indeed sounds a lot like "Burn, baby, burn it," continuing to prove that Moroder is a master of rebranding his signature sound for a modern audience. Next is the tongue-in-cheekly named "74 is the New 24," which sounds like a revamped version of the "Chase" from Midnight Express for which Moroder was most known. The only thing uttered on the track is "Hey Mr. DJ" (faintly reminiscent of the opening to Madonna's "Music"), which is really all one needs to coo in order to get what they want on the dance floor.
Although this listener is not completely convinced of the goodness of a remake of Suzanne Vega's infallible "Tom's Diner," Britney Spears' dance-tinged rendering of the track can't help but be paid attention to with its lulling beats and Britney stylization. An almost completely faithful lyrical re-creation, Giorgio Moroder adds one additional line of his own: "love is the drug that makes you wanna drink." "Wildstar" featuring Foxes has the most emotion when compared to the other vocals on the album. Her detectable English accent lends a certain amount of authenticity to Déjà Vu, which is otherwise saturated with a manufactured vibe (not to say this is a bad thing).
Perhaps the most curveball collaboration off the record, "Back and Forth" featuring Kelis finds the usually moody singer sounding completely unlike her usual self. The message of the song is a lot like Florence + The Machine's latest single, "What Kind of Man," lamenting the back and forth, push and pull of being in a relationship with a man who is inordinately unpredictable in love. The second to last track, "I Do This For You" featuring Marlene, a Swedish singer who has been around longer than Tove Lo, but doesn't quite have the same amount of American fame, has a controlled fast pace that Moroder doesn't reveal as prominently on other songs. Showing off his ability to cultivate the perfect sound, Moroder wields Marlene's voice as a secondary tool to his own talent. "I do this for you/I only do this for you," seems to be what Moroder is saying through Marlene.
To conclude this epic comeback of a record, Moroder chooses not to employ the frills of using another au courant artist to back him. Instead "La Disco" is a mostly instrumental denouement, occasionally including Moroder's own manipulated voice. Matching "4 U With Love" in its jubilant sound, the Italian maestro of dance music couldn't have chosen a better way to put a cap on his triumphant return.