Yoann Lemoine is one of the more curious musical success stories of the year. A 30-year-old French-born, New York-resident video director, he has filmed acclaimed promos for artists including Lana Del Rey, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift before leaping the other side of the camera to record an album under the name Woodkid.
The resultant record, The Golden Age, recently went to No 2 in France and is a singular entity. It’s a simultaneously fragile and overblown symphony of brass, strings and synths, over which Lemoine murmurs melodramatic declarations of unrequited love in a hushed Antony Hegarty-style vibrato.
It’s grandiose, filmic music, destined for a host of TV and movie soundtracks, and in front of a crowd packed with adoring French expats, Lemoine gives it plenty of welly. A slight, diminutive figure in a beard and peaked cap, he is dwarfed by two giant percussionists, serried ranks of brass and strings, and an array of spectacular monochrome CGI-generated visuals.
As music, and as a spectacle, it’s imposing, sporadically pretty yet also claustrophobically over-orchestrated. Everything is pitched at a point of blaring crescendo; Stabat Mater sounds like Laibach attempting the Champions League theme, while the finale of Iron – a song that is currently soundtracking a TV ad for mobile phones – resembles a frenetic scene from Stomp.
Lemoine is clearly aiming for the sublime, but his machinations are too bombastic and calculatedly stylised to appear remotely cathartic. Woodkid knows how to put on a show, but there is no blood on these tracks.
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I really like this music!