Five of the Best: Little Dragon

Lit­tle Drag­on are the type of band that will have you stay­ing out well past bed­time – on a work night – just so you can drink in every last ounce of their magnetism.

Hail­ing from Gothen­burg, Swe­den, the band is com­posed of singer Yuki­mi Nagano, key­boardists and synth con­trollers Fredrik Käll­gren Wallin and Håkan Wiren­strand, and drum­mer Erik Bod­in. Nagano, Wallin and Bod­in met in high school, and were unit­ed by their love of music, as well as an alter­na­tive out­look on life which made them out­siders.

Since break­ing through at the begin­ning of this decade, Lit­tle Drag­on have made music with Goril­laz, DJ Shad­ow, SBTRKT, Big Boi, Raphael Saadiq, Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), and Kay­trana­da, among others.

As well as releas­ing their fifth album, Sea­son High, this year marks 10 years since Lit­tle Dragon’s spec­tac­u­lar self-titled debut album. That album was, and still is, a mar­vel in seduc­tive neo-soul and exper­i­ments in sub­tle tones.

So, we fig­ured right now was a par­tic­u­lar­ly good time to encour­age you to check out Lit­tle Dragon’s back cat­a­logue, espe­cial­ly if you’ve only heard a smidgen of their audio and visu­al delights.

‘Con­stant Sur­pris­es’ by Lit­tle Dragon
There’s no place bet­ter to start an intro­duc­tion to Lit­tle Drag­on than with the group’s ever-styl­ish front­woman Yuki­mi Nagano. All you need know is this: Nagano has a voice so enchant­i­ng, so caress­ing­ly soul­ful that she could be read­ing you an income tax demand or a war­rant for your arrest and you’d still be smit­ten. (Even Snoop Dogg is speech­less after hear­ing her.)

Twice’ is big fan favourite from the group’s first album. But equal­ly as good is ‘Con­stant Sur­pris­es’, which also shows off the incred­i­ble imag­i­na­tion at work from the four-piece.

‘Blink­ing Pigs’ by Lit­tle Dragon
When it comes to Lit­tle Dragon’s music, it’s often not the sounds you think of, it’s the sen­sa­tions and the images they paint in your mind. ‘Blink­ing Pigs’ is a ter­rif­ic exam­ple of this. Some­how, the bell chimes and ethe­re­al vocals take me back to time spent on London’s south bank and rush­ing to catch my uni­ver­si­ty bus in Not­ting­ham, which parked in view of a large clock face. Have lis­ten, and see if the feel­ing of “time in motion” jumps out at you, too.

‘Rit­u­al Union’ by Lit­tle Dragon
This was the song that tru­ly cat­a­pult­ed Lit­tle Drag­on into the main­stream. The pro­duc­tion is the def­i­n­i­tion of “alter­na­tive”, with bizarre clicks, zips and mul­ti-lay­er­ing, yet it’s just restrained enough to evoke a sense of direc­tion. Com­plet­ing the pack­age is Nagano with her catchy, inge­nious hook for 2011’s sum­mer of love.

‘Cat Rid­er’ by Lit­tle Dragon
Lit­tle Drag­on write and pro­duce all their own mate­r­i­al: an incred­i­ble feat when you lis­ten to the phe­nom­e­nal range of music styles they dab­ble with. Lat­ter­ly, they have become some­thing of an alter­na­tive dance-pop group fit for club enthu­si­asts, thanks to songs such as ‘Shuf­fle a Dream’ and ‘Klapp Klapp’. The band is also known for its super-chill songs, of which they are many. Their 2014 album, Nabu­ma Rub­ber­band, fea­tures two of their best chill tunes, ‘Pink Cloud’ and this dreamy number.

‘High’ by Lit­tle Dragon
As with some many artists, it’s hon­est­ly impos­si­ble to choose just five Lit­tle Drag­on songs – if even one of these songs has tak­en your fan­cy, I urge you to lis­ten to all five of their stu­dio albums. We’ll have to do a sec­ond round-up of must-hear Lit­tle Drag­on songs just for kicks. In the mean­time, get some kicks of your own from ‘High’, the sul­try lead sin­gle from group’s flir­ta­tious new album, Sea­son High.

What are some of your favourite Lit­tle Drag­on songs? Share your thoughts on our Face­book Page or via @fringefreq on Twit­ter.

Image: Mar­co Van Rijt/PR