'New Me, Same Us' Review: Little Dragon fuse R&B, house and jazz soundscapes in dreamy new album
Little Dragon's new album is as warm as it is melancholic, a treat of various genre styles for those who want to kick back or take a long drive to some solid music
Swedish electronic band Little Dragon will release their new album 'New Me, Same Us' on March 27 via Ninja Tune. Formed in Gothenburg, Sweden, when lead singer Yukimi Nagano was just 14 years old, Little Dragon has forged their own path in the music industry as one of the most easy-to-love and genial groups in recent times with unhurried, enchanting interpretations of R&B, pop, and electronica.
Entirely self-produced and recorded at their long-term home-built studio in Gothenburg, 'New Me, Same Us' marks the sixth studio album by Little Dragon and follows their 2017 full-length album 'Season High'. With the band drawing influences in a melting pot of various genres from groups such as Brian Eno, Snoop Dogg, D’Angelo, and Alice Coltrane. The new album garbs methods of trip-hop and downtempo with an R&B overlay, with the vocals appearing jazzy at times, and one is reminded of a contemporary form of groups Morcheeba, Buddha Bar, and a sort of "opposites attract" playful companion to Massive Attack.
'Hold On', the opening track, sets up the overall pace of the album with a rhythm of house, as it glides in easy-going well-wishing with lyrics that go: "In a life we live many lives. Gone astray oh so many times. Farewell in a millions. Broken hearts into billions. Always feel real. No regrets oh the pain will heal. Please accept why were standing still. I wish you happiness joy. Good fortune boy."
'Another Lover' uses its offbeat (drummed beautifully) to offset the pain of losing the devotion one feels to their lover while questioning the possibility of another future partner. Nagano's deep vocals on this track tease neutrality while facing said lover with its lyrics: "I can’t understand what I'm doing. don't understand where we going. Please understand where I'm coming from" before breaking into sultry yet comforting high notes. 'Another Lover' is a final kiss on the cheek before breaking up.
'Every Rain', the album's fifth track, gets a warm ensemble of electronica with broad, sweeping echoes and the experience is dreamy, to say the least. This is especially evident in the last minute-and-a-half with extended synth strings playing and adjusting the chords slightly every few bars. If 'Another Lover' is your break-up song, 'Every Rain' is the song you play late at night on a spontaneous road trip away from your lover.
After several of the album's previous somewhat melancholic numbers, 'Where You Belong' slides in ever so smoothly like a sip of hot coffee after a tiresome day. A funky slap bassline drives the soothing music while Nagano sings, "I have no choice but to close my eyes tight till I know it’s for sure. You been there all along, right where you belong. Through the darkest maze. Stay by my side. Over heavens grace. Stay by my side."
'Stay Right Here' shines as one of the stronger R&B-toned tracks of the album, albeit over more electronically inspired instruments: scores of softened, glassy xylophone play over ambient strings (that clicks, strangely enough) and a bassline minimized to two-three taps every bar. This particular song is notably good for its arrangement. Going into a laid-back groove, breaking the vocals at points, going back into the groove, changing between melancholic themes, dreamy themes with cheerful note structures, and more. Its charm is its off-balance drift from emotion, back again, and alternations that keep listeners surprised at every turn.
'New Me, Same Us', although not as high-tempo or energetic as some may prefer, is overall warm and comforting at its core, easy-listening, captivating with subtlety and the R&B music for natives of fantasy realms!