Little Dragon, Ritual Union (Peacefrog, 2011)

Little Dragon are a techno quartet from Gothenburg, Sweden consisting of Yukimi Nagano (percussion), Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards). Their third album Ritual Union came out in July. The album consists of pleasant enough pop and R&B flavored songs with basic electronic arrangements, but it lacks a real spark or genuine originality.

While electronica has remained popular in Europe, it went out of vogue in this country almost as quickly as it came in during the nineties. Ironically, despite the fact that it was more cutting-edge than a lot of other pop and rock styles that remained popular despite not really evolving in the ensuing decade, it is a challenge for performers still in the genre to keep from sounding dated when they come over here. Little Dragon do have some pop sensibility, but their music ultimately sounds a little too familiar. A couple of songs are at least pleasant or danceable in a light sort of way, like the title song, "Shuffle A Dream," and "Please Turn," but there's nothing sufficiently edgy or energetic on Ritual Union to demand the listener's attention.

Ultimately, Little Dragon preach to their choir more than they break new ground or achieve any crossover appeal. Fans of the mellower side of electronica will find Ritual Union to their liking, but the album will be a tough sell to people who never got into the genre in the first place.

Overall grade: C+

reviewed by Scott

A live performance of "Ritual Union"

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