Sweden’s Little Dragon received a boost from singer Yukimi Nagano’s appearances on the latest Gorillaz album Plastic Beach, but the band were already on the up thanks to a superb second album Machine Dreams released last year.
The problem with them as a band, however, is a disconnection between Little Dragon’s best material and their experimental side – two elements that are constantly doing battle in a live setting. On the one hand, they are capable of big swooning numbers, as evidenced by the crowd-pleasing Grey’s Anatomy-featuring ‘Twice‘ and on the other, the music can be understated, more groove-based and more difficult to enjoy.
Little Dragon aren’t one for big live statements. The minuscule arrangements can lack bombast and lead to disengagement. Backed by wonky synths, steel pans and bass, Nagano’s smooth as silk voice is the main attraction for highlights like ‘Looking Glass’ and ‘Swimming’ but too often the band just don’t match her magnetism. When they do, it takes the band to turn towards dance music styles with dub and electronic passages that are both cerebral and euphoric. The crowd have something to lose themselves to. When it doesn’t, you might just patiently be waiting for the song to end.
Photos by Alan Moore.