Swedish indietronica, synthpop and trip-hop giants Little Dragon, have subtly returned to the limelight; with the obscurely named, and obscurely sounding Nabuma Rubberband. The highly-anticipated fourth album may not be Little Dragons finest, crowning moment as it requires both dedication and relentless patience; though the album still shows some signs of success.
Pressure has been on for Nabuma Rubberband, to propel the quintet’s name and distinctive sound across the globe. However, upon first listen – the album does not reach stimulating status. The uneventful opener Mirroris subtle, yet lacks the radiating personality that Little Dragon fans adore most about the Gothenburg band. As the end of the track looms, an eerie drum beat kicks in, creating goose bumps; thankfully saving this track from impending doom.
The simplicity of both Cat Rider and Paris serve to showcase Nagano’s voice in all its magnificence, as she breathlessly whispers over the sultry sound of Cat Rider: “stop playing with the one that you love”. As well as her powerful, haunting vocals being the back-bone of these two tracks; Only One features a defining vocal performance from the woman who makes Little Dragon so diverse. Nagano’s peculiarly hooky voice here proves she creates beauty with everything she touches.
The high-intensity, nine second long Lurad creates a sense of sudden, rising tension; making the listener believe, for the first time, that title track Nabuma Rubberband could instantly transform this album into a work of art. However, as quickly as Lurad vanishes; hope is dashed as another run of the mill track is brought to life on the album.
Little Dragon’s fourth album skates from high to low, firstly with Killing Me; a menacing, synthesised-driven track, contrasting with the monotonous title track, and colossal comeback single Klapp Klapp; featuring a sinisterly seductive electric bass and pulsating synth bleeps, again saves the listener from losing all optimism for this album. Although Little Dragon may have created an uphill struggle, demanding patience from the listener; the joy that radiates from both Killing Me and the triumphant Klapp Klapp outshines every poor moment of this album.
Although Little Dragon may have gone back to basics with subtle syth-riffs and failing to make a splash; Nabuma Rubberband features a few stand-out moments that deserve recognition. On the bright side however; Little Dragon are back from their long anticipated silence.