Season High, the newest record from Swedish electronic group Little Dragon, finds the group creating rhythmic, heavily arpeggiated, funky backdrops for lead singer Yukimi Nagano's slinky, highly evocative voice, to great effect. Season High is now available to purchase and it's not too late to get tickets to see Little Dragon performing in Scottsdale, AZ at Livewire on April 23rd, 2017!
The opener gets the listener moving immediately with its classically Little Dragon synth line interplaying with the bass. The verses are another great example of the group's good use of space, with a call-and-response between Yukimi and an ooh ooh-ing vocoder. The staccato delivery on the chorus of “Let Love Drip” contrasts well the smooth verses, so much so that when it hits, the groove becomes undeniable.
The second song, “High”, brings things down a touch, presumably to allow the user to “roll another one”, as implied in the lyrics. Yukimi's vocals on this track are wonderfully androgynous, and her funky delivery is simultaneously breathy and full-bodied.
Third track, “The Pop Life”, lives up to its name nicely with a very catchy chorus that is driven by a very dance-y rhythm. The transition to the first chorus gets the listener back on the dance floor. The synths on this track, and on this whole album in general, tend to favor mixing sweeps with more percussive elements, creating spaces that are filled with a variety of colorful, bouncing sounds.
“Sweet” is an instant earworm. The bass line works its way into and around your brain. The synth line is pretty wild-- it sounds like a video game dripping. The harmonies all singing “Sweet!” is serious ear candy, and so is the whole song.
The track “Butterflies” is a slow burner that gradually builds to its peak of arpeggiated synths swooping in and out of each other. The arpeggios that pepper this track add more rhythm than anything else, occasionally creating neat polyrhythms. The way the synths rise from the background makes the song feel a bit like a movie soundtrack for a science-fiction character drama, and Yukimi's melody grounds the song with the right amount of emotion.
“Should I” brings the groove back for a relatively brief 3-minutes. The drums on this album are groovy and occasionally blown-out sounding, which makes the whole album feel large and stadium-ready.
“Don't Cry” is another slower track, with some interesting delivery from Yukimi during the verses, however the song as a whole doesn't quite stack up to the quality of the rest of the tracks, feeling just a little underwhelming. However, there are some interesting pan flute sounds on this thing that do manage to make it an engaging listen.
This album follows a dance track, slow track, dance track pattern for the most part, so “Strobe Light” is an upbeat number (and one of the cooler songs on the album). The feel of this song is a little darker than the rest of the album, and perhaps a little sinister. However, its overall sound fits in with the rest of the album's quite nicely.
“Push” is a killer track. This song's bass line is so good, and frankly, Little Dragon has a great rhythm section, with the bass and the drums always pretty much killing it. This song has a more instantly catchy and memorable melody than some of the other more intricate tracks on the record, making it a perfect candidate for a single.
The album closes with “Gravity”, and wow, what a closer. This track showcases the best of Little Dragon, while also simultaneously presenting a different side of them that seems much more experimental. The rhythm on this one is almost tribal, and the album ends with the drums playing before a swell of sound builds up to close things off. Yukimi's vocals on this track are outstanding, as she sings to a potential lover about how great they could be, while also suggesting that “gravity will stop [them] from taking off”. It's a rather cool take on bittersweet, a kind of “wouldn't it be nice?” type of emotion. This song also builds up to a really moving peak where Yukimi harmonizes with herself and just straight up emotes.
As a whole, the album flows quite nicely and moves at a rather good pace. There are a couple of tracks towards the end that seem a bit like retreads of stuff that happened earlier on in the album, but like in the case of "Strobe Light" and its darker feel, are different enough to warrant their inclusion. Overall it's another really good album from a really good band, and Little Dragon's distinctive style is honed in on and polished on this album, as it's one of their best sounding albums yet.