Little Dragon

Published on March 4th, 2018

Little Dragon by Ben Wong

Sweden pumps out stellar music. In pop (ABBA, Ace of Base), rock (The Sounds, The Hives) and electronic (Eric Prydz, Avicii), this Scandinavian country has excelled in mastering melodies. Electro-pop quartet Little Dragon continues the streak, blending beats with jazz, r&b and alternative for a creation all its own.

Across five albums, frontwoman Yukimi Nagano bares the vocal range of an otherworldly siren, while drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Fredrik Wallin and synth player Håkan Wirenstrand create infectious backing from the band’s personal studio in Gothenburg. It’s hard to believe they’ve been together for 22 years. Their popularity skyrocketed only in the late 2000s. Last year they played Coachella.

Also driving that rise is their outstanding artist collaborations — a musical interest and openness that spans guest spots with Gorillaz (“Empire Ants,” 2010) and SBTRKT  (“Wildfire,” 2011) as well as a showcase for ’90s r&b favorite Faith Evans on Little Dragon’s own 2017 track, “Peace of Mind.”

The band’s latest full-length, 2017’s “Season High,” finds them still capable of their signature upbeat sound. But a newfound mellow sensuality is what really defines this album, their first with an outside producer — James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco. As Nagano told The Guardian, “[W]e have an easy time coming up with songs, but we sometimes have a struggle finishing them. So having James Ford come in at the end was really helpful[.]”

High” is an enticing jam about using marijuana with a lover that conveys the feeling of actually being under the influence. Nagano in a blue wig and a fabric crown, breathily saying, “Roll another one for me,” is probably one of the sexiest moments in modern music video. “Pop Life,” although danceable and dreamy, offers a jaded look at today’s world. “Sweet” feels a bit like its lyric: “Candy overflowing/my love sugarcoated.”

Nagano told The Fader that she intended “Sweet” as a kind of parallel to overpowering attraction: “It could be love, it could be a drug, it could be anything you feel extremely addicted to.” If South Florida, with its eclectic and easygoing club culture, doesn’t already love Little Dragon, “Season High” should seal the deal.

Little Dragon performs March 15 at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale. ~ Olivia Feldman


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