First and foremost a video director, Yoann Lemoine embarked on his musical career in 2011 under the alias of Woodkid. The release of his debut album ‘The Golden Age’ followed suit in 2013 and it was here he merged his skill as a video director and as a musician together further visualising his music through creative and groundbreaking cinematography. Woodkid could easily be penned as an artist you probably don’t know you know. Hits like "Iron", made famous by the incredible Assassins Creed 4 Revelations trailer, an episode of Teen Wolf and many other film trailers as well as his hit single "Run Boy Run" made famous by the blockbuster film Divergent amongst other various outlets.
Now it’s been 8 years since Woodkid graced this planet with a studio album but he’s returned with ‘S16’, a record containing tremendous amounts of melody, symphony and a mix of relevant personal and global themes to top it off.
First single released "Goliath" gives the listener exactly what could be hoped for with a titan of a song that plays through like an apocalyptic mammoth raining down on the planet. Depicted in it’s accompanying video a display of machinery, its power and the effect it can have on this world, provides a soundscape of off-the-scale proportions. Second single ‘Pale Yellow’ offers a fantastic juxtaposition between chillingly haunting verse and intricately strung together chorus intertwined with various industrial elements and soundclips of working machinery.
Where ‘The Golden Age’ was experimentation of the highest calibre ‘S16’ has taken this art to a new level to create a concise yet expanding album that grows and develops with every listen. There is a calm and a cool to the way in which this record has been presented with a level of suave and confidence oozing through in vocal technique and inclusion of experimentation and instrumentation.
Various additional elements such as a vocal choir on "Reactor" and "Minus Sixty One" lift the album to new heights with a complete wall of sound. Slower brooding moments on tracks such as "In Your Likeness" and "Enemy" still scatter orchestral instrumentation throughout the songs but in a structure that feels like a standalone track in it’s own right when removed from the album as well as listening as a whole. These moments build to choruses that blast through the speakers with enough pop melody to provide an instant likeability. A highlight on the record is Woodkid’s vocal confidence shining through each track but “Drawn To You” and “Shift” really show a focus on this and it pays off.
"Horizons into Battlegrounds" provides a stunning piano track with very little in terms of additional instrumentation. The track offers a feeling of hope and uprising whilst showing vulnerability and need for support in doing so. The lack of additional instrumentation leaves the listener to be encompassed by Woodkid’s stunning melodic vocal work as well as appreciating the minor note changes within it’s backbone provided by the piano. It is truly stunning.
Woodkid’s music almost feels like more than music when you factor in visuals and general aesthetic. If the listener or fan immerses themselves into the whole experience both visually and sonically they will get easily immersed into the concept, this has always been the case with Woodkid. What sets ‘S16’ apart is the way in which the songs are constructed to make this feel like one that works sonically without the added context. An album that is impressive, surprising, multi-layered and an incredible feat in sound engineering start to finish even after multiple listens, ‘S16’ is nothing short of a masterpiece.
S16 is released 16th October.