The Swedish salad days are dead. No longer does each week bring a blitz of Balearic bands from Gothenburg, Jens Lekman ostensibly remains slicing up avocados while convalescing from a bout with swine flu, and Peter Bjorn & John valiantly attempted to kill their career by making their Self-Portrait even though they’d never made a Highway 61. Meanwhile, The Knife watched Eyes Wide Shut four too many times, which caused Karen Dreijer to take off six months to follow Wagner’s Ring Cycle around the world. The kids (or their Pitchfork overlords) have anointed new lo-fi and washed out darlings, leaving Little Dragon as the standard-bearer repping the land of ice and snow.
The easiest way to judge a band is by the reception of their peers, and Little Dragon have received a flurry of recent co-signs from Floating Points to Damon Albarn, who tabbed them to appear on “Empire Ants” on the new Gorillaz album and play with him at Coachella. Their music defies reductive descriptions. Portishead on prozac is the first thing that pops into my head, but that’s not right. Truthfully, it’s not far from the retro 80s pop that critics can somehow call “chillwave” with a straight face. But their music is brighter and less nostalgic. The secret is they do it tastefully — there’s a restraint and an originality that allows them to escape being branded as revivalists. And like any pop group worth a damn, they’re funkier than they have a right to be. Empirical evidence below the jump.