11 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sweden’s Little Dragon possess such a plethora of ideas and talent, it feels like they molt a layer with each release. Their 2007 debut was soulful, jazzy and offbeat, and 2009’s Machine Dreams moved into electro/trip-hop territory, with Yukimi Nagano’s vocals a shade more sinuous and supple. Ritual Union takes a harder turn into electro-pop, with beds of crackling, pulsing synthesizers and crispy percussion underlying Nagano’s mostly plangent vocals. The title track has a cool urgency, with a finger-snapping snare beat and a faint, throbbing keyboard laying the perfect rhythm for a smooth shimmy. The tune segues into the brilliantly understated “Little Man,” a song rich with a silky, neo-soul liquidity. Tunes like those are the real stars: propulsive, sensuous rhythms are understated, stealthily embedding themselves in place of bold hooks digging in. The blinking, clattering “Nightflight” (which vaguely recalls the great ESG), the swinging, jazz-inflected “Shuffle a Dream,” and the slithery “Summertearz” possess a kind of narcotic appeal, demanding repeated listens that reveal more delights each time.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sweden’s Little Dragon possess such a plethora of ideas and talent, it feels like they molt a layer with each release. Their 2007 debut was soulful, jazzy and offbeat, and 2009’s Machine Dreams moved into electro/trip-hop territory, with Yukimi Nagano’s vocals a shade more sinuous and supple. Ritual Union takes a harder turn into electro-pop, with beds of crackling, pulsing synthesizers and crispy percussion underlying Nagano’s mostly plangent vocals. The title track has a cool urgency, with a finger-snapping snare beat and a faint, throbbing keyboard laying the perfect rhythm for a smooth shimmy. The tune segues into the brilliantly understated “Little Man,” a song rich with a silky, neo-soul liquidity. Tunes like those are the real stars: propulsive, sensuous rhythms are understated, stealthily embedding themselves in place of bold hooks digging in. The blinking, clattering “Nightflight” (which vaguely recalls the great ESG), the swinging, jazz-inflected “Shuffle a Dream,” and the slithery “Summertearz” possess a kind of narcotic appeal, demanding repeated listens that reveal more delights each time.

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