The beauty of the all-encompassing “indie” genre is the fact that it is so all encompassing. An avant-garde artist looking to break the mold (if not create an entirely new one) can sit right next to a singer songwriter on a festival’s bill. Little Dragon is a band that has accomplished the unique task of creating a distinct sound while navigating the space between familiar and inventive.
Formed in 1996, this Swedish quartet consists of Yukimi Nagano on vocals and percussion, Erik Bodin on drums, Fredrik Wallin on bass and Hakan Wirenstrand on keyboards. It may seem odd that a band with such strong ties to R&B and soul could operate without a guitar, but Little Dragon has created a marriage of these familiar genres with the electronic, synth-pop that has dominated the music world for the past decade.
This melding of neo-soul with electronic flair have given this band a unique identity throughout their 3 albums. The debut, self-titled release leaned heaviest on R&B influences while their latest, Ritual Union, dives deeper into dubsteb. Nagano’s rich vocals anchor the songs and give them warmth; ballads such as “Feather” still seem personal and intimate even though strongly driven by electronic beats.
Little Dragon has mastered their blend of sultry with space-age over the course of 3 releases. The danger of creating such a unique identity lies in how to evolve while remaining true to self. Hopefully this quartet is up to the task.
If you like: Gorillaz, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Nightmares on Wax
Check out: Little Dragon (start with Ritual Union, continue with Machine Dreams, graduate to Little Dragon)
Feeling brave: Metronomy, James Blake, Glasser, Burial
AI level: Beginner