This Season’s Forecast: Dance
Swedish electro-indie group Little Dragon released their fifth album to date, Season High. Over the past decade, Little Dragon have established quite a following through the production of steady, successful releases and touring. This year, they’ll also play at the Coachella Valley Music Festival alongside headliners Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar.
Leading up to this album’s release, frontwoman Yukimi Nagano’s voice has been in high demand, as she’s collaborated with a variety of artists — including Big Boi, SBTRKT, Kaytranada, Mac Miller, Flume, and De La Soul — her unique sound blending and pleasing the likes of indie, electro and R&B artists and fans.
Although Little Dragon consistently blends genres, Season High has a very ’80s pop feel to it. The album opens with “Celebrate,” with an Asian-inspired intro theme set to an ’80s beat backdrop, reminiscent of early Janet Jackson. But the second track, “High,” is the most stunning song on the album. It is slow and soft in Little Dragon ballad fashion, with subtle electronic instrumentation, soft vocals and a beautifully crafted melody that can be listened to over and over again. It stands out in a sea of ’80s-inspired pop that’s fun and upbeat, but a little more forgettable. Some of the tracks are headed to the eletro-dance party, such as “The Pop Life” and “Sweet,” which are dance-beat focused, the electro-pop sound losing the charm in Yukimi Nagano’s lamenting vocals. “Butterflies” is atmospheric, bringing scenery to the lyrics “and the spotted wing / blow in the wind” in ambiguous rhythm over fluttering synths.
Season High showcases the duality of Little Dragon’s new direction— to pop vs. not to pop (one being less successful than the other). Nagano’s distinctive low, resonant vocals sound like they could be that of any pop star in songs like “Strobe Light” and “Push.” But glimpses of that tried-and-true Little Dragon signature sound come through in “High,” ready to be teased out and nurtured.