I’ve been a major slacker as far as blogging goes lately. But that’s ‘cos I’ve been un-slacking in other areas. You know, work and such. So anyway forgive me for what could be a series of really late passes. But anyways, Little Dragon are near and dear to my heart so here’s the infos on their new album Machine Dreams along with a download (below) of “Blinking Pigs” which I first saw over at TreesForBreakfast. Press release via Dog Day Press. “Feather” is currently being played by various DJs on KCRW.
Little Dragon return with a spectacular second album offering in August, a pulsating electro pop epic that Prince would be proud of (only fronted by a beautiful Swedish lady with a sultry voice). A bold and surprising side/two step onwards from their acclaimed 2007 self titled debut. Machine Dreams, with its nagging hooks and gloriously infectious tunes, will see the band break out into the mainstream.
Having toured relentlessly since the last record, Little Dragon found themselves to be very popular in the US specifically on the west coast. After sessions on KCRW’s flagship ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’ show, their album became the most played on the station after Radiohead. No mean feat for the little dragons from Sweden, especially when they didn’t have a US record label backing their forays. The track ‘Twice’ was even played on hit US show Grey’s Anatomy. The band’s US success brought them to the attention of the likes of notorious basement dweller DJ Shadow and David Sitek, the latter asking them to support TV On The Radio on their US tour in May 2009.
Recorded in their home city of Gothenburg, Machine Dreams is fresh and kinetic. Be it Yukimi’s warmly inviting vocals, Erik’s dextrous drumming, the vast array of synths and bleeps created by Hakan or Frederik’s bubbling bass lines, together they don’t sound like anything else around right now. The move towards a more electronic sound was a conscious one, as Yukimi explains; “These days, humans seem more and more like machines, and as technology evolves, machines feel more human and it becomes fuzzy and beautiful and science fiction-ish. We feel dependent on our machines to create and live, and their sounds reflect us”.
Album opener ‘A New’ breaks us in gently with a single whirring note on the synthesiser, an almost alien sound that gradually morphs into a slow, thumping bassline. Yukimi’s vocals flow alongside Hakan’s assortment of sound effects interspersed with militaristic drums breaks. A magical opener that sets the scene and seems to sink into itself, taking us with it, until the pace is swiftly ratcheted skywards with ‘Looking Glass’, the massive snare, crisp driving beat and spacey synths revealing the band’s current penchant for the 80s. This influence continues apace into stand out track ‘My Step’. Utilising a solid drumbeat that nestles next to jagged and playful synthlines, the track breaks down into motorik propulsion with a scuzzy techno bassline that Yukimi works with ease.
Upcoming single ‘Feather’ finds Yukimi’s voice at its most detached and seemingly nonchalant, yet magnificently seductive. Backed by Hakan’s keyboard atmospherics, the song creates a soundscape reminiscent of Tears For Fears’ more reflective moods. Gradually layering more vocals, synths, echoes and reverb, it builds to a quietly psychedelic, dreamy cosmic swirl. ‘Runabout’ brings forth a mini Airto style percussive breakdown at the tail end of yet another Little Dragon pop gem. ‘Swimming’ bursts into life with stabbing keys and reflective bass, while Yukimi sings of young love “and now so many years have past, my memories as clear as glass”. The song is over as quickly as it started, flowing into the next miniature masterpiece in the form of ‘Blinking Pigs’.
The album closes with the stunning ‘Fortune’, which has already caught the attention of none other than DJ Shadow, who wrote to the band personally to say how much he loved the track. It’s no wonder really, as the textured melodies blend with the drifting percussion, creating a blissful sonic mood. With a smattering of drums and bass and the magic of Yukimi’s voice and Hakan’s electronic dynamics floating on top, it’s the perfect song to end this fascinating journey through Little Dragon’s brave new world.
With disparate influences from Depeche Mode to Prince, LCD Soundsystem to James Holden, Dancehall to R&B, Jazz and Soul, Little Dragon take their place among artists who straddle many genres, yet somehow create their own and in doing so create “sounds that make time stop” (Yukimi). Futuristic yet somehow retro, Machine Dreams sees Little Dragon achieve something timeless; that elusive pop classic.
Needless to say, I cannot wait.
Listen to “Blinking Pigs”: