Little Dragon escapes the R&B-according-to-hipsters pitfall
Last year's Machine Dreams also had lollygaggers wandering aimlessly about, but the music was fuller and more vibrant. Instead of ballads with sad little keyboard riffs, there were panoplies of sounds, from the percussion titters of "A New" to the dense yet airy washes of "Fortune." Much of the album is kookily uptempo, with clockwork rhythms reminiscent of Howard Jones and Thomas Dolby (in a good way). "Playing live [during the tour for the first album] made us want to pick up the tempo," Nagano said. "We really love playing dance music. There's nothing as great as seeing people dancing."
As Little Dragon pushes in a new direction, the R&B sounds that once inspired them drift into the past. The band is listening to different stuff now, like Depeche Mode, DJ Cleo, and Gui Buratto. "Obviously the first album was written a long time ago, and it's been a few years. Those songs were written even before 2007. They were already old for us then. Time has passed and you change."
Machine Dreams is a qualitative leap from the debut album, which Nagano dismisses as "demos" that the group's label, Peacefrog Records, released without their permission. (She was pleasantly surprised when audiences responded so well to it.) And if Little Dragon is better equipped to harness its current Kraftwerk obsession than the R&B passions of the past, then so be it. Regardless, the results don't sound like anything else.
"I love music so much, and the guys do as well," Nagano said. "You know how you get that kick from something you haven't heard, and get inspired? It's a great kick to have in your life. We want to find that as often as we can." That seems painfully obvious to me. *
With VV Brown, HOTTUB
Tues/13–Wed/14, 9 p.m., $20 ($30 for two days)
628 Divisadero, SF