Having sounded like a stuck record recommending the wonders of Sweden's Radio Dept, a move across the country from that bands home in Lund in the extreme south to Gothenburg on the West coast is now order. Here we find located the equally wonderful "Little Dragon" comprising the intriguing and forthright Swedish-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano (vocals, percussion) plus fellow band members Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass), and Rashik Aryal (keyboards). Like Radio Dept this band specialise in creating bold electronic landscapes but probably owe a greater debt to the pop sensibilities of Blondie and Prince than the shoe gaze preoccupation's of the former. This is unsurprising not least with the enchanting vocals of Nagana who can sound like Prince, Bjork and a myriad of other artists. Listen to the title track "Ritual Union" with is sparkling electronic rush and you quickly release that it could have appeared on "Graffiti bridge" and by doing so increased the quality of that album tenfold. When she rather cheekily asks in the song "If you want him, girl, could you share?/Cuz that's the deal now, if you dare" you sense that she is not going to take "no" for an answer. The pounding "Cystalfilm" is fundamentally great pop music with a dance floor ethic. Its that sort of track that heads down your musical burrow like an old stoat and refuses to leave. Its effortlessly cool and destined to be mixed by a thousand aspring producers.
Throughout the electronic backdrop is never intrusive and as with the considerable restraint shown in the new Wild Beasts album many songs build slowly but surely with careful layer upon layers of sound, controlled to perfection without a note out of place. On one of the albums standout tracks "Please turn" a ticking almost Kraftwerk style opening mutates into a sinister yet erotic dance track with Nagana's yearning vocals at the core. Indeed we are probably watching a star being born in a insteller burst in front of our eyes and many of you will have already heard her voice playing a key part on Gorillaz "Plastic Beach LP (Damon Albarn knows a good thing when he hears it). The weird noises in the backdrop of "Brush the heat" should not distract from what is a brilliant minimalist electronic funk track which Fever Ray would give her right arm to have penned. Granted on "Little Man" the frothy side of the band comes to the fore but it is very catchy and you suspect could be huge hit. The band are careful to vary their plays, thus on the albums two concluding tracks we have firstly the shimmering beats of "When I go out" which would equally be at home on a Panthu du Prince album while "Seconds" is a quirky ambient instrumental which sadly ends the album on a bit of damp squib. This misstep is subject to very able redress with the bell like clinical funk workout of the excellent "Summertearz" and most of all the rolling noise synth fest that is "Precious" which reminds me of the great Lewis Taylor (yes its that good) plus "Nightlight" which Prince should be drip fed to regain his muse.
Overall "Ritual Union" is smart pop music with a first class honours degree, it is every bit the equal of that other attention grabbing 2011 album of Swedish electro pop funk namely Lykke Li's polished diamond "Wounded Rhymes". Why Sweden has come to such predominance with its many and varied bands of supreme quality in recent years requires a PhD level inquiry, what is certain is that Little Dragon on "Ritual Union" (their third album in four years) proudly sit in that sterling linage and deserve huge international success. All quite remarkable really.