Little Dragon Ritual Union is this Swedish quintet’s third album. This one, like their previous albums, is a smooth lounge act played off of the smokey vocals of their lead singer, Yukimi Nagano.You probably don’t realize it, but you’ve heard Nagano before. She’s did a few tracks on the Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach album, lending her voice to “Empire Ants.” Despite being a little behind in getting to this album, I’ve been trying to keep up with Little Dragon since I first heard them with the Gorillaz.
Ritual Union blends the genres of indie, soul and electronica into an easy-to-listen to album. The band’s minimal backtracks allow the listener to focus on Nagano’s crooning, highlighting what is the best part of Little Dragon’s sound – Nagano’s voice. While the vocals are the center of the sound, the music compliments and harmonizes with Nagano’s tonality.
Normally, I am a bit leery of groups that fall into the “experimental” category, but Little Dragon’s sonic experiments work. The tracks are backed with samples and synthesizers that are purposefully down tuned and run through effects to create their unique sound. Somehow Little Dragon found the right balance of these elements, blending what would otherwise be a cacophonous mess together to form a unique, even catchy, album.
Party goer opinions:
Alex: [On classifying Little Dragon’s sound] “It reminded me of jungle techno because it had faster beats, but a consistent backbeat. Santogold came to my mind when listening to the album.”
Tim: “Similar to the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs or Santogold but with a smokier or deeper female vocal. It was original; I couldn’t put my finger on a band that they sounded like.”
Jon: “It’s a cross between Postal Service and Portishead. Good album, very mellow. Would I listen to it on the way to work? Maybe not. Would I listen to when gathering with friends? Probably.”
Bridget: “I liked it.”
Kristy: Don’t quote me on this… [Note: I didn’t put “quotes” around your comment, so it’s not directly attributed to you].
Lauren: “I like the song that you’ve played a couple times.”
Party verdict: Party goers enjoyed the album, most of them commenting on the lead singer’s voice.
My opinion: Nagano’s vocals take the album from mundane to great. She’s the “x factor” that gives the band their enjoyable sound. Definitely listen to the album.
“Shuffle a Dream”
Bonus: Gorillaz “Empire Ants” featuring Little Dragon