Sweden’s Little Dragon specializes in English-sung, soulful electronic music. Though their band name is a reference to Yukimi Nagano’s fiery-temper during record sessions, Little Dragon’s music—a playful blend of R&B, New Wave, experimental and electro-pop–is as cool as their native Gothenburg.
Nagano, drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin, and keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand began playing together in high school in 1996, but it wouldn’t be until the release of their self-titled debut in 2007 that the world would begin to discover Little Dragon’s synthy soul. The Swedish foursome has since released two more LPs, 2009’s Machine Dreams and 2011’s Ritual Union.
Their latest LP is by and large more avant-garde and ambitious than 2009′s Machine Dreams. The tracks often sound like almost-unrecognizable mutations of genre pastiches. “Shuffle a Dream” is a blunt new wave track that’s missing a clear hook, New Order melody, and deliberate structure. “Nightlight” is a decidedly creepy, dissonant version of 80s funk pop — like a backalley Madonna, MJ, or even Pat Benatar. “Precious” would be a distortion-revving dubstep experiment after the drop — if it weren’t for a soul clap beat. Ritual Union is a dark, dreamy, decidedly un-minimal album with a few pop anchors. It’s an evolutionary step that true fans demand from Little Dragon, while more faint-hearted listeners can walk away with some goodies, too.