Hailing from Gothenburg, one of the many Scandinavian havens for glowing pop music, Swedish synth quartet Little Dragon have returned from some high profile stints with the Gorillaz on tour and David Sitek in the studio. Ritual Union their third album and easily most masterful yet is a collection of electro-pop songs in the same vein as a Black Cherry era Goldfrapp collaborating with Bat For Lashes. The music steeped in R&B (similar to The XX but much less minimalist) yet finds room for expansive synth lines, wiry guitars and disco-beats. All of this possible as a result of lead singer Yukimi Nagano’s viscously sultry voice that is seemingly more attuned to the smoky lounge as compared to the band’s deceptively catchy electro-pop. This wild-card of an attribute is nearly always the band’s saving grace. To put it bluntly Little Dragon traffics in an instantly recognizable albeit deceptively unique style of music that at times can be quite transcendental (“Ritual Union,” “Brush The Heat" and “Please Turn” in specific) unless Little Dragon are relying too much on the power of their lead singer to push the listener through otherwise mucky bits of wayward backing keys, rumbling synthesizers and a simple-yet-driving beat.
Ritual Union does little to curb the expectations of Little Dragon to once again frustratingly under-perform if only because the sparks that actually catch are quick to burst into a firestorm. Songs like the vivacious “Nightlight,” the tempered “Crystalfilm” and the elegant closer “Seconds” are brilliant showcases for Little Dragon’s skill at producing groove-centric pop songs that are as apt to prompt rump shaking as they are intimate inspection. That being said, Little Dragon constantly limit themselves on record. Not to say Ritual Union is a poor record or that the career they have built is somehow sub-par but one cannot help but feel like there should be more to this band. That if they decided to sever their ties to synth-pop even slightly that the results could be astronomical. Instead they chose to play it safe; which is alright considering that Little Dragon were never that cautious in the first place. And Ritual Union should keep current fans happy while building on the slight increase in hype the band has seen over the past few months. Good? Sure. But could it be better? Without a doubt.
2. Little Man
3. Brush the Heat
4. Shuffle a Dream
5. Please Turn
10. When I Go Out
Little Dragon is an electronic music group formed in 2006 and based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The band is made up of Yukimi Nagano (vocals), Fredrick Källgren (bass), Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards) and Erik Bodin (drums). To date, they have released three studio albums: Little Dragon (2007), Machine Dreams (2009) and Ritual Union (2011).
Their first release was a double-A-side 7" single on Off The Wall (later signed to Peacefrog) that had two tracks: "Twice" and "Test".... read more