I’m ever so slightly in love with this take on “Ritual Union”, and the Jimmy Fallon live version, to boot. Beautiful photography and a superb visual accompaniment to the song and its lyrics.
As featured on their official webpage, “Can you spot the difference between the digital and physical versions of our album? If you spotted “Seconds,” you were right. Download the original, instrumental version, and remix by Syd The Kyd of OFWGKTA below!”
Right click and hit “Save link/target as…”.
Beyond the obvious semantic connections, it’s appropriate that Little Dragon’s Ritual Union’s cover is a gridded assortment of decades-old wedding portraits. The Swedish electronic-pop quartet boasts a sound best described as a collage of timeworn genres, loosely blending clean synth-pop, lounging jazz, ’90s-era R&B, and flourishes of tropicalia into a highly digestible synthesis of textured, percussive energy.
Establishing much of their funky, catchy credentials on 2009’s Machine Dreams, Little Dragon doesn’t break much new ground on their third album, but that’s beside the point. The band’s sound has never been, nor was it intended to be, the most distinct or inventive example of modern, indie-centric soul (that honor belongs to Danish duo Quadron). Little Dragon has always been more interested in the execution of their multi-genre pop rather than a stark reinvention or innovation of it, and Ritual Union represents the best polishing of their patchwork style to date.
Little Dragon often places rhythm and texture at the forefront of their songs, but as on Machine Dreams, gifted lead singer Yukimi Nagano continues to be the greatest facet of the band’s style-spanning sound—a husky, beguiling force that seamlessly swaps power and sexuality for aloofness and anguish from track to track. Her vocal performances prove to be a perfect foil for the angular nature of the band’s instrumentation, matching an organic—and at times bristling—femininity with hygienic, factory-like looping. In other words, Nagano lends the album a face, bestowing a human element to the machine.
Paired with Nagano’s warm, engrossing voice, Ritual Union’s songs become much more than just capable synth-pop fare. “Brush the Heat,” a horn-punctuated clicktrack teeming with buzzing, insect-like percussion, is elevated beyond a mere pleasant glide thanks to the seduction of Nagano’s whispery drawl. “Seconds” proves to be deceptively simple, with Nagano’s barely mouthed coos providing one-half of a blithe, minimalist give-and-take between voice and music.
The album’s twin crowning moments come in “Summertearz,” where vocalist and tempo mimic each other atop stuttering drumpads, and the prickly “Shuffle a Dream,” a catchy-as-hell exercise in barbed synths, vibraphone smacks, and lyrical throwdowns. Here, Nagano is in complete control, as she is on most of Ritual Union. “If you want him, girl, could you share?” she asks.”‘Cuz that’s the deal now, if you dare.” – Source.
As featured on Little-Dragon.net. See track two.
“Swedish synth-pop crew Little Dragon recently released their new LP, Ritual Union. Now, Odd Future member Syd the Kyd has remixed a song from that record, “Seconds”, giving the tune a slow, trip-hoppy feel.” Courtesy of Pitchfork Media.
‘Ritual Union’: I guess it has kind of a poppy vibe. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but we were definitely leaning more towards a thicker sound.
‘Little Man’: It’s about a man who’s like a little rat, running in a wheel and searching for happiness everywhere. He feels something is missing within him. Writing about that fantasy… obviously that comes from somewhere, from stories I’ve heard or people I’ve met. Nobody specific.
‘Brush The Heat’: It’s very much based on the drums; it has kind of a tribal feeling to it. It’s about these kinds of inner demons and emotions you have that you want to brush away.
‘Shuffle A Dream’: It has kind of a future feel to it, but it’s still kind of like what we usually write, with that whole nostalgic feeling.
‘Please Turn’: It’s a minimal song, there’s not much to it. It’s about a man who wants to control things around him, but he can’t. He’s trapped in the human body… I can relate.
‘Crystalfilm’: I think we have too many light sounds and they can put you in a bit of a trance, so this one has some darker melodies. It’s a love poem about desire.
‘Precious’: We had that song for years. We kind of forgot about it. Then we started playing with it, took a vote and put it on the new album.
‘Nightlight’: It’s a dance track, it’s that future sound, it’s an experiment. We just kept adding stuff and trying new things.
‘Summertearz’: It’s inspired by a lot of South African rock music that we were listening to. It doesn’t have a chorus, it’s got a bit of a chant feel, a bit of a psychedelic vibe to it. It’s an escape song.
‘When I Go Out’: I think that one sticks out largely because it still sounds like how we started out. I put some vocals on it and Erik (Bodin) put some drums on it. That one’s even more of an escape, you can get lost in it.
‘Seconds’: This was a really last minute thing. We were originally going to have 10 songs, but then we remembered we had that and thought, ‘yeah, let’s put that in’. It’s not a lot of instruments, it’s just drums and vocals. – Source.
Electro-pop can’t stop and won’t stop, as is proved by the release of Little Dragon’s third album, Ritual Union. The Swedish quartet, led by the sultry, nymph-like vocals of Yukimi Nagano, flaunt their refined self-assurance with this latest installment of work. In the past, Little Dragon stood above the rest of the electro-pop blur of synthesizers with their knack for dishing out a collage of textured and colorful sounds to satisfy the musical palette. However, this time around, they merely leave you hungry for seconds.
This new album is lacking the fresh musical nuances that their sophomore album, Machine Dreams, created and sustained. Ritual Union gives you an initial hope for what one would imagine the slow jam rhymes of the future to sound like, with songs such as the buoyant title track “Ritual Union” and “Shuffle a Dream.” Yet, it continues on and falters in an attempt to relax into its own coolness. The album gets caught in a slow sway of uncertainty and eventually dozes off in a kind of poetic lethargy. A greater part of the album varies between bare beats and synth riffs that drip with flat-lined moodiness. Granted, Nagano’s croons still echo smooth jazz, but on this record, she has a tendency to subdue them with too many hushed phrases.
The album is not a complete letdown — it’s cohesive, consistent, and well-polished, but a bit too plain for its own good.Rather than taking advantage of the raw talent and limitless potential of Little Dragon, the album is shockingly disappointing, albeit still entertaining. Let’s look at Ritual Union as a light appetizer to Little Dragon’s next album where they can hopefully indulge in their fuller, potential genius. – The Daily Californian
I truly enjoy seeing the evolution of a band through their music. Little Dragon is a perfect example of that on their third studio full-length, Ritual Union. The Swedish quartet, fronted by singer Yukimi Nagano, is a gorgeous mix of soul, R&B, rock, funk, synth-pop and electronica. It is a very captivating sound that’s had me since the band’s first singles several years back. When the first single of the new album “Nightlight” surfaced, I immediately knew something different was on the horizon. The new record brings something that we have not seen before. This is evident in the band’s use of slightly more aggressive sounds and dynamic vocals that are a bit more intertwined from one track to the next, though they never lose the dreamy pop sensibility that has made their songs so addictive.
My first love of music comes from the dance floor, so to hear more use of electronic, uptempo and dance rhythms makes Little Dragon’s new release much more of a winner for me. That dance influence creates a very interesting mix with Negano’s vocals that sometimes dip into a quirky and folky vibe. Ritual Union definitely has a beginning, a middle and an end. This journey is what makes the album so intoxicating. The opening title piece gets the party started. Then you bob and weave on this musical roller coaster all the way until the end. The closing cut, “Seconds” rounds out the record and is reminiscent of a softer, gentler Kraftwerk that can be a lullaby to chill out and fall asleep to. I can’t wait to see Little Dragon play this new batch of tunes live. It is impossible for anyone to sit still during their shows and their concerts always take the music to the next level. – KCRW