You’ll remember that Little Dragon had a big 2016, and that’s without releasing this record. The Gothenburg pop pioneers guested on some of last year’s biggest albums: Kaytranada’s 99.9%, Flume’s Skin and De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody – proving that their unique chemistry remains a) in high demand and b) incredibly versatile.
If you’ve followed Yukimi Nagano, Erik Boden, Fredrik Källgren Wallin and Håkan Wirenstrand since their 2007 debut, this will come as little surprise. The band’s ability to turn introspective, heart-breaking rhythms into swelling floor fillers has steadily, subtly collected them a deservedly global fan-base. Their third record, 2011's Ritual Union, broke them well and truly into the mainstream, and 2014’s Nabuma Rubberband gained the Swedes a Grammy nomination. That brings us to 2017: Season High.
The record’s artwork steeps the band in a deep, blood-red haze – their fifth studio album is more bodily than their previously perfectionist beats. Season High injects something a little stickier into their DNA. Opener Celebrate (feat. Agge) builds nostalgia out of permafrost beats, adds a whispered “It’s your birthday”, and escalates into a scorching, screeching guitar solo. High, one of the record’s singles, drifts high above the clouds, buoyed by warm currents and breathy, lazy excess. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be/ Right there, little bit slower/ Feel free to roll another one for me.” The Pop Life throws back the bedsheets and dusts off the disco ball, while the second single, Sweet, swings from e-numbered hyperactivity towards a candy-crusted climax.
For all Season High’s exuberance, the record never pitches too hard. Little Dragon sense when to turn it down just as well as they know when to ramp it up, and tracks like Butterflies and Strobe Lights deal in emerald lights and moody ultraviolet. Still, you can’t help but wonder what would happen if the four-piece truly let go for a second: dreamy, seven-minute long closer Gravity asks “Can you imagine that?” as Nagano muses “Gravity won’t stop us from taking off/ … And if we get lost?”
Listen to: High, The Pop Life, Butterflies
Buy Little Dragon - Season High on LP/CD from Norman Records