Woodkid's first full-length LP feels like the soundtrack to a high budget blockbuster. The problem is that it has trouble living up to this enormous scale.
“Can we keep our Bering Strait / Or will we be blown off course / Are we instruments of fate? / Do we really have a choice?”
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. It’s clear he’s brought his directing experience with him, influencing the sound of his music. The Golden Age sounds like something that could serve as a soundtrack to a major motion picture. Every track is produced in a way to flood your speakers with sound from each and every angle. Layer upon layer of instrumentation is present, amplifying the scale of the sound. I’m not sure whether or not an orchestra was used to record The Golden Age, but if not, the production techniques definitely give that illusion.
At times this extravagant sound can become overbearing. The Golden Age often tries to accomplish more than it’s capable of. Woodkid tries to take the listener on an epic journey, traversing illustrious soundscapes and pumping powerful imagery through the veins of the audience. The album is supposed to display a growth of life from beginning to end, but that transformation could easily fall unnoticed. It’s not that Woodkid isn’t a talented songwriter, but he seems to be striving for an intensely emotional record and he just can’t quite deliver that audacious masterpiece that he has pictured in his mind.
That’s not to say The Golden Age is without moments when everything does come together. “Run Boy Run” serves up an inspirational sound that pulls you into a heart-racing opening scene in a film. “I Love You” delivers what might be Woodkid’s most remarkable piece of songwriting. The song is easily accessible to a fan of any type of music and conveys a believable representation of a man who is down on his luck and is pouring out his soul to a woman in a desperate last attempt to win over her attention. Those familiar with Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 will no doubt recognize “Iron”, one of the absolute best moments The Golden Age has to offer. Appearing towards the end, “Iron” feels like the exciting, climactic clash of a final battle.
There can be no doubt against the fact that The Golden Age feels powerful. Whether it’s more of a thoughtless Michael Bay thriller or a deep adventure with the intricacies of Christopher Nolan, there are definitely explosions galore and production values that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There aren’t many albums that sound like Woodkid’s The Golden Age. If you’re in the mood for something bold, with loud production and poetic lyrics, The Golden Age might be worth hearing. It just might not be an experience that sticks with you in the long run.