Four albums in and Little Dragon continue to plough their own wonky furrow.
A little like Wes Anderson’s films, you sort of always know what you’re going to get with this band: wistful, soaring vocals, feather-light synths and a curious sense of detachment. And if you're into that, then great. If you’re not, however, the band’s relentless tastefulness may leave you cold.
Nothing much about that approach has changed for ‘Nabuma Rubberband’. If anything, the band’s sound is even more subtle, low-key and refined than before. The production is shimmering and spacious, Yukimi Nagano’s vocals the centre of a cat’s cradle of glittering synths and down-tempo beats.
What has changed – and where it wins out over 2011’s frustrating ‘Ritual Union’ (review) – is in consistency of tone. That album sounded incredible, but felt at times like a collection of slightly awkward B-sides. ‘Nabuma Rubberband’ is altogether more assured.
Opener ‘Mirror’ sets the mood, with Nagano wearily sighing, “See how you’re making me blue / We know you’re better than that,” over the most desolate of beats. The fantastic ‘Klapp Klapp’ (video below) lives up to its name and is more danceable – but still ends with a chorus of “Falling apart / Falling apart!”
It’s not a downcast album, mind. ‘Underbart’ is one of this band’s most convincing adoptions of club music yet, while ‘Paris’ is pure pop. A fat vein of R&B runs through this rich, soulful record. Live, Little Dragon are weapons-grade ace. Now they’ve finally got an album to match.
Words: Will Salmon
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Catch Little Dragon headlining Clash’s night at this year’s The Great Escape festival in Brighton, on May 8th. More details here. The band is featured, in depth, in issue 95 of Clash magazine, out soon.