Monday, 12 May 2014

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband Review

I'll be honest with you, up until this point I wasn't really a fan of Little Dragon; whilst I've always felt they've had potential, their previous three albums failed to really grab me.  To avoid the disappointment this time around I decided (rather foolishly) to boycott this album campaign and ignore the critical buzz surrounding the wonderful lead single 'Klapp Klapp'. I eventually gave in and listened out of curiosity, and then I fell in love. What a song. Perhaps this delectable synth-led dance-pop delight was a fluke? I thought, but to my further surprise, second single 'Paris' was just as good if not better. And by the release of buzz track 'Let Go' I was fully on-board. I then decided to listen to this record with a completely open mind and as a result I found one of the most enjoyable and surprising albums of the year so far.

In the context of the album, 'Klapp Klapp' still burns bright, with it's piercing opening bassline hitting just as hard. 'Paris' also provides further pop relief from the nocturnal slow jams which dominate Nabuma Rubberband, 'I'm changing my next flight to Paris' declares front woman Yukimi Nagano with her signature sultry delivery. The best track on here by a mile is 'Underbart' with it's pulsating synth beats and hookladen chorus, it is surprising to me that this hasn't been released as a single. The album finishes strongly with the recent buzz single 'Let Go', reminiscent of 'Help Me Loose My Mind' from Disclosure's Settle; it's sparse synth arrangements provide a luscious and soothing closer to what is an otherwise dense and punchy record.

The albums downfall is its consistency; whilst the uptempo  moments are strong and varied, the slow jams are not quite as good. The production on all tracks is solid but the melodies tend to fall flat with the lack of memorable hooks which dominate tracks like 'Paris' and 'Underbart'. The one exception is the throbbing 'Killing Me', melodically it even recalls Michael Jackson's 'The Way You Make Me Feel'. Lyrically, it's all about escapism; 'I'll take my rocket ship and get the hell outta here', a sentiment which sums up the unworldly spirit which lingers throughout the record.

Despite my prior criticisms about the band, after seeing their recent performance on 'Later...with Jools Holland' I gained a much greater appreciation of what this band does. In a world where less is more and bands tend to favour computer screens over instruments, bands like Little Dragon and Polica take a refreshing stance by keeping the band format alive and exciting. As much as this album isn't perfect, for the most part Nabuma Rubberband provides colourful, catchy and fun electro-soul with sinister nocturnal undertones.


Best Tracks: Klapp Klapp, Underbart, Paris, Killing Me, Let Go

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