Marco van Rijt
Little Dragon hits Orpheum on Wed., June 11.
Named for lead singer and percussionist Yukimi Nagano’s feisty tantrums in the recording studio, Little Dragon
has been active for several years but really hit the indie dance scene hard with their 2007 self-titled debut, their sound residing somewhere in down-tempo, lounge-jazz and synth-pop sonic realms. The electro quartet from Sweden — also comprised of Hakan Wirenstrand (keys), Erik Bodin (drums) and Fredrik Kallgren Wallin (bass) — has issued three full-lengths since then. Sophomore album Machine Dreams
established the Little Dragon as colorful, atmospheric and dance-oriented with lush tracks like “Feather,” “Never Never" and the more caffeinated “Runabout.” Collaborations with the likes of SBTRKT, Gorillaz and TV on the Radio continued the widespread exposure and the quartet enjoyed enough rising popularity to get them on the albums charts in both the U.S. and U.K. by the time third LP Ritual Union
arrived in 2011.
My first introduction to Little Dragon happened at work. I was folding a stack of men’s tee-shirts at J.Crew and “Ritual Union” came onto the store's daily playlist. Nagano’s unapologetically sexy voice shifted the mood and made all the mundane, unsexy things happening that day — like helping half-naked elderly women in the fitting rooms or steaming men's suit jackets — feel much less so.
They’ve slowed down the pace a bit more with fourth and latest full-length, Nabuma Rubberband
, which is just as
beat-driven, groove-infused and hyper-cool as the last three efforts, but floats more on the breeze of Nagano’s raspy R&B-tinged coos. Set opener “Mirrors” is a perfectly sensual slow-jam, and other cuts like “Pretty Girls” and “Paris” reveal laid-back experimentation with soul and trip-hop influences.
The non-pandering pop quartet has a wintry soul-vibing Swedish heart with an R&B pulse, prompting steady sways, head bobs and occasional hip shakes. Though their material has gotten more eclectic and experimental over the years, their live show this Wednesday night will hopefully touch on the more dance-vibing tunes that initially put them on the map.
Details: Little Dragon with Lawrence Rothman, Wed., June 11, 8 p.m., Orpheum, Ybor City, $20 advance/$25 at the door (all ages); reserve tickets here
"Feather" off Machine Dreams.
"Klapp Klapp" off this year's Nabuma Rubberband