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Critic’s Pick: Ritual Union

Since releasing their debut album in 2007, Little Dragon has proven to be one of Gothenburg, Sweden's most eclectic--and sought after--pop exports. After spending the past year collaborating with the likes of Gorillaz, Big Boi, Dave Sitek, and DJ Shadow, the quartet has now unleashed Ritual Union, its most ambitious offering to date. On songs like "Nightlight" and the title track, Swedish-Japanese front woman Yukimi Nagano slinks her way through Prince-like funk and electro with her signature effortless cool, but she always manages to keep things soulful. It's rare to find futuristic dance this moody and visceral and warm. Unlike so many current purveyors of ambient pop, whose music seems to exist only inside a computer, Little Dragon is a capital-B band. They pepper their songs with whistles, drums, tinkling synths, and, in the case of "Brush the Heat," a well-used cowbell. All to keep fans carefully listening while shamelessly dancing.

--T. Cole Rachel

(Music video for "When I Go Out," from Ritual Union)

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