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.
Image: Marco Van Rijt/PR