Albums Reviews and Streams

Little Dragon: Ritual Union

If either of those songs tickles your fancy, then you'll be happy to know Nagano sings on all eleven songs featured on Ritual Union -- an album that NPR music has given their exclusive first listen treatment, streaming it in its entirety for you to enjoy before it is released next week.

Ritual Union finds Little Dragon evolving quite a bit from the lucid, free-flowing feel of their last album, 2009's Machine Dreams. While Machine Dreams featured more open, orchestrated melodies, Ritual Union finds the band exploring the more decidedly electronic side of their sound -- and with fantastic results, I might add. Lead single "Ritual Union" spends its three and a half minutes in a funky synth-pop holding pattern -- it's a catchy song, but repeated listens render its structure rather baffling. The song doesn't seem to go anywhere, but it's shortcomings are outweighed by Nagano's transcendent vocals. Other offerings such as "Please Turn," "Crystalfilm" and "Nightlight" find a darker, more electronic tone -- a perfect counterbalance the standout tracks from Machine Dreams.

Little Dragon could, for all intents and purposes, hitch their collective wagons to the strength of Yukimi Nagano's singing style -- she is just that good. They don't, however, resulting in the band making a marked effort to truly evolve their sound. The beneficiaries of all this hard work? That would be us listeners, of course.

Ritual Union is streaming in its entirety over at NPR Music and is out 7/26 via Peacefrog. Tracklist is as follows:

1. Ritual Union
2. Little Man
3. Brush the Heat
4. Shuffle a Dream
5. Please Turn
6. Crystalfilm
7. Precious
8. Nightlight
9. Summertearz
10. When I Go Out
11. Seconds