Little Dragon – “Ritual Union” (2011)

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I love going through used CD stores, looking at the rows of bands I’ve never heard of and taking a chance for three or four bucks. That’s how I came across this album, though I had heard of Little Dragon before thanks to my favorite music critic, Anthony Fantano. But I had no idea what style of music they played. I’ve since learned that Little Dragon is a Swedish electronic group with a heavy dose of soul influence thanks to their wonderful vocalist, Yukimi Nagano.

From the first two songs, “Ritual Union” and “Little Man”, I was loving the album. Little Dragon’s beats match perfectly with Nagano’s classy and beautiful voice. What really works with both of these songs is the strength of the melodies as well as Nagano having center stage. The more time she has to shine the better.

Unfortunately after these first two songs the rest of the album takes a major dip. The deeper tracks either range from average to slightly off putting for me. The beats go into more experimental territory at the expense of melody and catchiness and the soulful vocals don’t have as much of an emphasis. Given how extraordinary the first two tracks were, I kept coming back to the album again and again. I hoped that the things I loved would reveal themselves to me on the rest of the album, but they never did.

I’m coming out of “Ritual Union” feeling mostly disappointed. “Ritual Union” and “Little Man” are fantastic songs, but they cannot make up for nine others that leave little to no impression on me.

So it goes with the used CD store, it giveth and it taketh.

5/10

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