Encountering Woodkid’s (aka Yoann Lemoine) music was pure coincidence: one afternoon lounging around the apartment the primal “Iron,” from the same-titled 2011 EP, popped up on Spotify radio, and the thundering drums and crisp brass were immediately intriguing. Even more coincidental was bumping into that record right around the time Lemoine had announced the long-awaited upcoming release of a full album. So it was with great anticipation we waited for the release of “The Golden Age”—a 14-track masterwork blending classical, R&B, hip-hop, film score, and a number of other genres. Woodkid’s sound is wholly unique, unmistakable, and infectious once you’ve heard a track or two.
The album touches on themes of the vanishing joyful naivety of childhood (“the Golden Age is over”), the constraints and pressures of an often depraved and oppressive world, freedom and choice, hope in storms and dark times, and the hurt and confusion of love lost. Perhaps most compelling, though, before you are drawn into Lemoine’s lyrics, is the obvious classical influence, which begins in the opening track “The Golden Age” with buzzing horns reminiscent of Berlioz’s “Agnus Dei” from Grande Messe des Morts, Op. 5. Chimes, ominous strings, epic drums, and chorale brass undergird the entire album—melodically conveying the themes and imagery of the lyrics. One of the standout tracks is even entitled “Stabat Mater,” sharing the namesake of the Vivaldi composition—an early childhood favorite artist of Lemoine’s.
“The Golden Age” was conceived as a pop album, but of a very inventive and organic-sounding sort. Lemoine “wanted it to be very cinematic and orchestral with continuity between the tracks. I found that all of these songs I had been writing, these fragments of lyrics that I wrote, these sounds, visions, and collages of images that I had, were creating a story…”
While a few of the tracks—particularly the singles “Iron,” “Run Boy Run,” and “I Love You”—may be relatively radio-friendly in isolation, the real brilliance of the album is the continuity of themes and sound from beginning to end. It is perhaps the most complete and imaginative album released so far in 2013 (of ones that we’ve heard), and is well worth several listens and sharing with others (***1⁄2 /****). Two&Too
(Interview with Complex http://www.complex.com/music/2013/03/interview-woodkid).