I was first introduced to the music of Woodkid on a trailer for the video game Assassin’s Creed Revelations; the sound was a perfect mix of polished pop, fused with a sophisticated orchestral sound. The Golden Age, Woodkid’s debut album follows a similar theme – creating a wholly cinematic experience.
It is no wonder that the music is so visual; the french musician behind the pseudonym Woodkid – Yoann Lemoine’s own path to music was first through graphic design then directing music videos for artists including Moby, Mystery Jets, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Drake and Rihanna. After being given a banjo by guitarist Richie Havens during a shoot the classically trained Lemoine decided to move in to making music full time and Woodkid was born.
The album kicks off with the title track – a gentle piano led song that sets the tone for what is to come; as the track moves forward gentle orchestrations build, strings swell and percussion builds in a quiet / loud / quiet manner underneath Woodkid’s distinctive vocal delivery. Slightly reminiscent of the style of Antony Hegarty, Lemoine’s vocal style is probably the most polarising aspect of the album, it does seem to be one of those like it or loathe it singing styles – personally i’m fine with it.
The next track Run Boy Run is an example of where the concept works best and is one of the standout songs on the album. The percussive style of the deep bass drums underpins the track as it races to an euphoric chorus and closes with a symphonic outro that could soundtrack many an epic scene in any piece of cinema.
Listen to Run Boy Run:
The recent single I Love You pushes the sound into more of a pop structure but is still constructed from the same symphonic building blocks used previously. The song continues the emotional narrative of the album following the journey of growing up which Woodkid seems to wear on his sleeve. The track Shadows is a lovely instrumental interlude at the halfway point of the record, and the track Stabat Mater introduces a choir chorus to good effect.
Mixing orchestral music with pop tunes is in no way a new idea but here it continuously manages to sound original. This distinctive sound is both the strength and the weakness of the album, with most of the tracks created with the same strokes a few get lost into the mix. It’s not that they are bad, it’s more the case that they don’t define themselves enough to stand out from the memorable tracks on the album. The second half of the album suffers from this slight fatigue until you reach Iron.
Iron was one of the original Woodkid tracks and the one I originally heard on the trailer mentioned at the beginning of this piece. The song is a driving anthem that pulls the brass section to the fore, entwining it with the familiar drums from the previous tracks, making it a powerful song.
Listen to Iron:
Despite its shortcomings, it is well worth giving The Golden Age a listen. The album may not have delivered on the promise of the earlier singles but it is still a solid record, it just needed a little more variety and couple more memorable tunes in the vein of Run Boy Run and Iron. There is nothing else that really sounds like it out there and the production is faultless. I’m sure many of these tracks will find themselves used on adverts and in television programs as they seem perfectly suited for it.
The Golden Age is out now and is available from iTunes.
01. The Golden Age
02. Run Boy Run
03. The Great Escape
04. Boat Song
05. I Love You
06. The Shore
07. Ghost Lights
09. Stabat Mater
10. Conquest Of Spaces
12. Where I Live
14. The Other Side