Final Rating: 7.2/10
Capsule had a podcast with Frederick Källgren Wallin, the bass player for electronic band Little Dragon, and we talked about the influx of electronic musicians that have been pouring out of Sweden lately. With Lykke Li’s recent release of I Never Learn and Little Dragon’s announcement of making a darker album, it seemed as though another comparison wasn’t too far away. Lykke Li’s album dropped and it is a personal release that feels as though it is a one-on-one conversation. With Little Dragon’s release of Nabuma Rubberband, while it is darker in tone, it stands its own ground as being an album not necessarily darker in tone but in spirit. A chunk of the album sounds like you have been taking part in a futuristic jazz lounge, while Little Dragon continue to stick to their Portishead inspired routes. It is safe to say that Little Dragon fear not with this recent explosion of Swedish electronic music, as they are far from the phase where each artist will become impossible to decipher from one another (if this even were to happen).
On the topic of identity, Nabuma Rubberband does have its own unique sound in relation to even the rest of Little Dragon’s discography, as it lingers and sifts through the darkness far more than their other releases. However, a lot of the songs tend to blend together on this release. I recall the single Klapp Klapp ending and not remembering how I got to Paris. While that can be considered a very good time without much thought on when songs will start and/or end, songs should still have their own John Hancock and not a shared signature. This bodes well for the album as a whole, as there is at least a unified listening experience throughout the duration of Nabuma Rubberband, but suppose you were to revisit a track: Will some of the other contenders survive?
The songs are all solid, at least. Each song carries a moving rhythm, whether it be through joy or through moodiness, and Little Dragon flaunt their trip hop expertise at the forefront of the album. Yukimi Nagano’s soulful singing is as consistent as always, with each song being narrated by a siren from the future with either good or worrisome news to tell. The music itself jumps back to the 80’s but, unlike bands like Chromatics that jump on a motorbike and speed off, Little Dragon decide to check back into the bar and see how it is handling. It isn’t as urgent as many retro sounding bands, which isn’t a con but just a description. Nabuma Rubberband stays to observe a situation, and if you are happy with enjoying the scenery, it will prove to be a pleasant companion piece. With glistening production and drifting melodies, yes, some songs may leak into one another, but it isn’t always wrong to get lost in the moment, and Nabuma Rubberband does just that. If you are hoping to reflect, Little Dragon have given you an album that will help you do just that.