Speaking to Rolling Stone Last year vocalist Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon explained that for this record the band started with nothing, no ideas, no vision, no plan. “We dove into different worlds and new spaces we haven’t been before”said Yukimi. And upon listening to this album what she says is true, they manage to bring in new flavors into the mix while still maintaining certain elements that make their music so great.
Little Dragon’s fourth LP ‘Nabuma Rubberband’ is an atmospheric, R&B, wintery mix between dance music and downtempo, but not sticking closely to either sound. The songs on this album take more patience and doesn’t jump out like their previous albums, instead, they choose to be more atmospheric and adventurous with their music .But that goes without saying that this is Little Dragon we are talking about and that any song they create is still going to maintain that fun and catchy feel that their music has always been known for. The album opens up with ‘mirrors’ a song that is reminiscent to their opening track ‘Twice’ on their first album. A dark and mysterious journey within the music with desolate, monotonous, drum beats alongside Yukimi Naganos soulful yet sinister vocals. ‘Mirror’ sets up the following track ‘klapp klapp’ which is ‘Mirrors’ polar opposite sister.
A fast paced dance track with a heavy bassline and upbeat drums that really push the song forward and shows off the more carefree, fun side of the album. With these two tracks you are given the full synopsis on what to expect throughout the rest of this album The band continues the contrast of dance and downtempo starting off with a three song suite that consist of an amalgamation of neo soul, R&B, and slow jams with the tracks ‘Pretty girls.’ ‘Underbart’, and ‘Cat rider.’ With each song the beat becomes less of the focus and more sparse until its almost completely pushed to the side to introduce more texture and space within the music, in which Yukimi Naganos take full advantage to show off her intense, passionate, and soulful vocals. Through out the rest of the album, Little Dragon manages to keep each song rhythmically diverse, rich in texture, and full of sonic exploration. The only real downside I find in this album is that it is a bit ADD, they land upon a certain groove or idea and before you know it, you are hit with a new idea even if the first idea they were on wasn’t fully developed yet. This album would have really benefited from having longer tracks but less of them on this album. Songs like ‘Only one’, ‘pink cloud’, and ‘Let go’ had so much potential to grow but were ended short to make more room for more music.
But overall this is a great album and I feel like Little Dragon is a band that learns from their mistakes and continues to grow musically each year, always looking back and building on what they have learned from the past. It is great to hear a band come out with consistent material and not only keep up with producing music at the highest degree but also being able to explore new musical areas and still maintain the sound the band is so well known for. This is the type of musical leaps that every musician hopes to strive for and I hope that Little Dragon’s future releases maintain the same high caliber of musical expression and exploration.
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