Experimental Swedish pop act Little Dragon has long been championed by its peers. The group-vocalist Yukimi Nagano, drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin and keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand-appeared on Gorillaz' 2010 effort, "Plastic Beach," and Nagano has lent her vocals to R&B singer Raphael Saadiq's "Just Don't" and dance music producer SBTRKT's "Wildfire," a song that lit up the Internet and spread awareness of the band (and of SBTRKT) when rapper Drake jumped on the track to craft his own remix in June. But lately, Little Dragon has been drawing major media attention in the United States all on its own.
In May, Little Dragon's new song, "Ritual Union" was included in Esquire's "30 Summer Songs Every Man Should Listen To," and later that month, the group appeared on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." (?uestlove, leader of the "Fallon" house band the Roots, is a noted Little Dragon fan.) On July 26, Little Dragon released "Ritual Union," its third full-length and second stateside release on Peacefrog Records. The album was recorded during the span of two years at the band's own studio in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a cast of rotating equipment.
Video: "Ritual Union," Little Dragon
"Our studio is kind of scrappy," says Bodin, who also served as the album's producer. "Most of the songs started with drums that had been recorded, and then me and Yukimi would build a song around the drums with a bassline and she would do a melody. On some songs, like 'When I Go Out,' that's more Håk and his little trip into voice processors."
The album is woozy, yet emphatic, as heard on the single "Nightlight" as well as on "Shuffle a Dream," which sounds like it could soundtrack an episode of "Miami Vice." Though often considered an indie rock band, Little Dragon's music is more often a coagulation of electronic dreamscapes with lush R&B-tinged vocals that bring to mind Erykah Badu or Portishead.
"They're a music lover's favorite band," says Heathcliff Berru, Little Dragon's U.S. co-manager. "Not many people, up until recently, have been reading about them, but I went on tour with them back in April of 2010 and they sold out most of that tour."
Little Dragon will hit the road in United States in August and travel through Australia and Europe in the fall.
"For this album, there are some people behind us helping to push out to the media. [Until now] it's been playing live and selling our CDs ourselves after the shows," Bodin says. "But this time I think they realized we came quite a bit by ourselves and they wanna join in."