Release Date: Mar 19, 2013
Record label: Island
In today's modern age, a medieval folk-rock album is sort of refreshing. On The Golden Age, director turned musician Woodkid (aka Yoann Lemoine) evokes feelings of royalty, honor, and pain through heavy drum use. This is an album that would be perfect as the soundtrack to a season of Game of Thrones. This album has sound variety covered, featuring pounding drums, gentle piano, church bells, horns, and woodwinds.
Woodkid's Yoann Lemoine has made his mark producing videos for the likes of Lana del Rey and Rihanna, and earned a Grammy nomination for his own Where the Wild Things Are-style single and video, Run Boy Run. That song's narrative – sword-brandishing schoolboy-hero racing wildly towards his destiny – unfolds in full on this filmic debut. It is the crisis of adolescence and all its aches that The Golden Age soundtracks, victories and losses played out in dark, fairytale metaphors.
It's beyond cliche to call sweeping, orchestral music "filmic," but in the case of music video director Yoann Lemoine's debut album as Woodkid, The Golden Age, the term fits. Though he's worked with Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Ray, Lemoine's own music is more in line with Antony & the Johnsons -- lavish, often torchy songs that pair dramatic backdrops with his charmingly imperfect vocals. While Antony fans will probably hear a lot to like on The Golden Age, Woodkid's approach isn't as intimate; instead, Lemoine's focus is often on the massive sounds around him.
Yoann Lemoine directed Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ video, was nominated for the Best Music Video Grammy for his single ‘Run Boy Run’ and had his song ‘Iron’ sampled by Kendrick Lamar. Dude’s got credentials. This, his debut, is full of the multi-instrumentalism, Antony Hegarty vocals and super-clean production that have made the 29-year-old Parisian’s name.
Woodkid’s ambitiously titled debut album, The Golden Age, is something that strives to sound enormous. The French musician has crafted grandiose instrumentals that aspire to return to a form of music that has since been lost upon a new era of sound. A former video director, Woodkid has stepped up from behind the camera and assumed a new position in front of a microphone.
Yoann Lemoine, the arboreal child in question, was once promo director to Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift and Rihanna, before becoming the creative force behind Run Boy Run, one of the most extraordinary videos of the last five years. A compelling mix of schoolboy escapism, Where The Wild Things Are, and self-consciously weighty symbolism, it was so stunning it begged a number of questions: Did it flatter the song? Would the album live up to its creative standard? And just how can a 12 year old boy with flowing blonde hair look so much like David Cameron? The answers to the first two questions are no and no (the third remains a mystery). Run Boy Run remains a standout track, even when shorn of its potent visuals; a masterclass in light and shade that takes the listener on a journey from panicked oppression, to hope, and finally to glory.
More of a conceptual project than a record, the cinematic debut from Woodkid – aka Yoann Lemoine, director of videos for the likes of Drake and Lana Del Rey - will divide listeners but it’s an assured, cohesive and intelligent record, perhaps more than any other so far this year. Building the central theme – of the move from childhood into adulthood and the subsequent desire to return to that ‘golden’ age – around the album’s 14 tracks as well as an accompanying novella co-authored with his cousin and several promo videos and visuals for his live shows is almost dizzying, not to say ambitious and foolhardy. One wonders how on earth Lemoine thought he could pull it off, yet a workmanlike ethic – the same that drove him to spend weeks painstakingly creating CGIs of cathedral interiors and futuristic cityscapes – ensures a meticulous attention to detail in production, lyric and composition.