It’s a known fact that we love Little Dragon. They may well be EMPT’s most posted artist. For good reason.
Yukimi Nagano, the group’s lead singer, is a force of nature. Her voice maintains its singular sound regardless of the sonic mayhem playing out in the background, and her octaval range brings excitement to songs that, with any other vocalist, would take a turn to the listless. Nagano is the constant, the bedrock of a band that has changed dramatically in sound and ambition since its earliest days.
Nagano, Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards) formed Little Dragon in high school, and released their first commercial single, “Twice”/”Test” nearly a decade later. Listen to “Twice.” It remains, for my money, their best song, a heart wrenching dive into the smoky heart of a stranger.
In the eight years since, Little Dragon has steadily climbed the ladder from underground club fodder to legitimate arena headliner. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live four times, most recently in November. They had a cold, outdoor crowd moving. Their shows bounce between friendly pop, experimental rythmics, noise rock and heavy dubstep. Yet they remain totally accessible to mainstream radio audiences and older generations. When 6th graders and 60 year olds both dig what you do, you’re doing something right.
“Klapp Klapp,” the lead single off their upcoming album “Nabuma Rubberband” (May 13, 2014) came out in mid February. It is a perfect benchmark of where the band stands today. Take the bassline, which flips back and forth between an acoustic jazz pluck and a heavy buzz saw. Or the aggressively repetitive snare track that fades to the background in the face of swelling strings and those classic Little Dragon organ stabs.
By the end, Nagano is autotune trilling like OG T-Pain, and it somehow fits. I cannot wait for the album to drop, because if “Klapp Klapp” is any barometer, it’s going to be a wild ride.