Electro-pop can’t stop and won’t stop, as is proved by the release of Little Dragon’s third album, Ritual Union. The Swedish quartet, led by the sultry, nymph-like vocals of Yukimi Nagano, flaunt their refined self-assurance with this latest installment of work. In the past, Little Dragon stood above the rest of the electro-pop blur of synthesizers with their knack for dishing out a collage of textured and colorful sounds to satisfy the musical palette. However, this time around, they merely leave you hungry for seconds.
This new album is lacking the fresh musical nuances that their sophomore album, Machine Dreams, created and sustained. Ritual Union gives you an initial hope for what one would imagine the slow jam rhymes of the future to sound like, with songs such as the buoyant title track “Ritual Union” and “Shuffle a Dream.” Yet, it continues on and falters in an attempt to relax into its own coolness. The album gets caught in a slow sway of uncertainty and eventually dozes off in a kind of poetic lethargy. A greater part of the album varies between bare beats and synth riffs that drip with flat-lined moodiness. Granted, Nagano’s croons still echo smooth jazz, but on this record, she has a tendency to subdue them with too many hushed phrases.
The album is not a complete letdown — it’s cohesive, consistent, and well-polished, but a bit too plain for its own good.Rather than taking advantage of the raw talent and limitless potential of Little Dragon, the album is shockingly disappointing, albeit still entertaining. Let’s look at Ritual Union as a light appetizer to Little Dragon’s next album where they can hopefully indulge in their fuller, potential genius.