I’ve been really worried recently by the amount of people I’ve met who don’t know Little Dragon. Its been giving me sleepless nights. Because Little Dragon are making some of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard. Subtle, experimental, dancey and laid back, their music is almost as contradictory as the notion that a great pop band exists that aren’t household names, or mashed out on Radio One ten times a day.
Maybe its because they rarely tour, or maybe its because they’ve only released three albums, but despite making wonderful, accessible, enchanting music and being ridiculously, ridiculously cool this brilliant band have somehow avoided mainstream success. Preferring to stay happily in Gothenburg with only the occasional festival appearance and the odd tour Yukimi Nagano, Erik Bodin, Fredrik Källgren Wallin and Håkan Wirenstrand have been making music together since meeting in High School in 1996. To say they've been taking things slow is an understatement and the band have only released Little Dragon, Machine Dreams and Ritual Union in the 17 years they've been together, with a fourth album now on the way. Fortunately for them their music is so gorgeous you could listen to each of the albums twenty times without getting bored and in testament to their brilliance, they’ve been on repeat at Sabotage HQ since I introduced my discerning colleagues to them a month ago. And they’re not an easy crowd.
Self-confessed 'sound nerds', the three boys make the music and Japanese-Swede Yukimi Nagano provides the enchanting vocals. If you do recognise her dulcet tones it will be from the group’s collaboration with SBTRKT on his dubstep hit Wildfire. Nagano herself has also worked with DJ Shadow (check out the Robati Remix of Scale It Back) and the Gorillaz, so needless to say, her voice box is hot property.
But its when she's part of Little Dragon that the magic really happens. Nagano sings sublime melodies over soft percussion and synths as though she's skipping through a meadow and even on their more up tempo tracks she still sounds beautifully detached, spontaneous and immediate. Listen to 'Constant Surprises' or 'After The Rain' through a decent pair of speakers and you feel like you’re sitting in the studio with them, which is probably why their music goes down as well on a midweek afternoon in the office as it does on a dance floor on a Saturday night.
But Little Dragon can describe their music better than I can. They call their music rhythmical, shifting, moody rainbow sounds. Yeah, I’d love to take the piss out of them for sounding like pretentious tofu-eating sentimentalists too, but if you follow my advice and go listen to them you’ll agree that its the most nail on the head description you’ve ever heard.
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