Yoann Lemoine is a multifaceted French artist who has the distinction of having worked with Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and even Lana Del Rey. He has been nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards for his directorial work, and has been recognized in Cannes, France for graphic design work on an AIDS awareness campaign entitled Graffiti. All in all, he seems like an extremely busy man. However, he is not too busy to also attempt to become one of the musicians that he so often directs videos for. In an effort to establish himself as a true triple threat, Lemoine has created his alter ego, Woodkid.
Now, there is no problem with a musician attempting to dabble in many different avenues of art. Johnny Greenwood has done incredibly well providing the soundtrack for two incredible Paul Thomas Anderson films (There Will be Blood and The Master), Jay-Z rules an empire of apparel, basketball, and alcohol, and Jack White has done some acting (both serious and comedic). However, this approach does not suit Yoann Lemoine. Simply put, Woodkid’s debut album, The Golden Age, is a lengthy and boring slog through tired string arrangements and clattering percussion that would be better suited for Local Natives or Grizzly Bear.
The record begins with the title track, using dramatic piano tones and undulating string arrangements to build suspense as the piece rushes towards a crescendo of clattering percussion and horns. “The Golden Age” is a song that causes the listener to envision the march of a giant slow moving army, and leaves no mystery as to the vibe that Lemoine is attempting establish. He wants his music to be grandiose, without space or time for vulnerability. It is an aesthetic that permeates the record and belies his background in film, as most of these songs could seemingly serve as the soundtrack for some giant melodramatic movie.
As the album wears on (and it certainly wore on this listener), Woodkid experiments with more clattering percussion, more sweeping strings, and also some incredibly unnecessary instrumental sections. Both “Shadows” and “Falling” left me slumped over my kitchen table wondering at the purpose of their inclusion on the record, and even the most interesting song on The Golden Age, “I Love You”, recycles a rim clicking snare drum beat that sounds identical to that of Radiohead’s “There There.”
It is possible for an artist to spread himself too thin when attempting to take part in many different professional pursuits. With the creation of Woodkid, Yoann Lemoine seems to be working to create a series of songs that could act as backing music to one of his cinematic visions. Without a film to soundtrack however, the album feels flat, overlong, and just downright tedious. Completing a full listen of The Golden Age is truly a chore.