Little Dragon:Nabuma Rubberband (Loma Vista) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Little Dragon

Nabuma Rubberband

Loma Vista

May 16, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Yukimi Nagano's voice is a force of nature, but not in the way you might think. As the frontwoman for Sweden's Little Dragon, Nagano has a smoky, sultry R&B voice that is instantly recognizable. She's backed by a band that knows how to meld and shape minimalist electronica into the pop landscape, throwing in a good measure of classic soul. The problem with Little Dragon, however, is that they've never been quite as good on record as on their numerous guest spots on other people's songsby the likes of Big Boi, DJ Shadow, SBTRKT, and most notably, Gorillaz, whom they opened for on the Plastic Beach tour. This changes with the group's fourth and best album, Nabuma Rubberband.

In interviews over the last year, Nagano has stated that the new album is inspired by "slow jams" by Janet Jackson and Prince, and it shows. Nabuma Rubberband starts off with "Mirror," a slinky burner in which Nagano declares "You're gonna make me put my fist through this mirror/I'm so sick and tired of lookin' in this mirror." "Mirror" gives way to first single "Klapp Klapp," a complex bass-driven tune that has already translated well to a Letterman performance. It's a striking start to a record that, from beginning to end, plays with more confidence than we've ever seen from Little Dragon before.

The only problem with Nabuma Rubberband is that it can't maintain that same quality throughout the album. "Underbart" and the title track, in particular, are mid-tempo songs that fade slightly into the background. That's a small complaint, though, when right afterward you have songs like "Paris," the centerpiece of the album and about as perfect a summation of Little Dragon's pop talents as one could ask for. With its minimal staccato synths and floating chorus, it's a beautiful, soulful high point on an album that's full of them. (www.nabumarubberband.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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