Album Review: Little Dragon – Season High

By Justin Cudahy, Staff Writer
[Loma Vista; 2017]
Rating: 6.5/10

Key Tracks: “Celebrate”, “High”, “Sweet”

Little Dragon is no stranger to the music industry. The Swedish electronic band has been in the game for over two decades now, constantly teetering on the edge of success both worldwide and in the indie scene. They’ve collaborated with several artists, including Gorillaz, Big Boi, De La Soul, Mac Miller, Kaytranada and Flume, yet another side of them wants to focus on themselves. According to Yukimi Nagano, Little Dragon’s lead vocalist, “Working with other people is fun, but it always makes us more focused on our work because otherwise, we’ll always be ‘that band that always does collaborations,’” and what other way to do that than to release their fifth studio album, Season High.

While their sound hasn’t developed much from their usual 80s slow jams, it seems like Little Dragon has become more carefree with their music, and in a good way. Season High serves as a form of escapism with each track bringing out a different emotion. “Sweet” is reminiscent of what can only be described as a sugar rush, while “High” is a much more mellow “lay back and close your eyes” kind of track. The album focuses on simplicity here, both in the instrumental sphere as well as the lyrics, avoiding complexity to maintain the album’s theme of searching for a “high.”

This feeling is enhanced ten-fold by Nagano, who drives home the album’s tone. Singing falsetto for nearly the entire album, she helps paint a picture in the listener’s minds that is mystique, but also minimalistic. Sticking to the idea of simplicity, Nagano treats each line of every song delicately, speaking slowly and keeping it as short as possible.

Unfortunately, Season High’s lack of complex sounds and rhythm also serves to be its biggest issue. The band fails to develop any one of the tracks throughout, which in a way limits their creativity. Tracks such as “Celebrate”, “High” and “Sweet” are able to work around this issue, thanks in part to Nagano’s singing, but sadly, she isn’t strong enough to carry the rest of the band for the other seven tracks. “Gravity”, Season High’s closing track, clocks in at nearly under eight minutes, with three minutes of the track dedicated to repetitive and tedious instrumentals that’s more fitting to listen to while shopping at Forever 21, rather than at home, or anywhere else for that matter.

Little Dragon is not even close to hanging up the towel just yet. In fact, the band will be playing at Coachella later this week, which is great to see a band as underrated as them get the attention they deserve. While Season High does have some flaws, it is still a great album that deserves a listen, whether it’s at a party, at home or even a clothing store.

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