Little Dragon offers a refreshing new listen. Machine dreams provides the perfect soundtrack to normal life, via the ubiquitous iPod. If you're not already living the digital life, you're missing what this music in your ears could offer: a sense of deeper import as you wander around. The basic concept is that Little Dragon plays R&B tinged electronica, but it flows deeper than that.
From the first track, A New, the electronica groove kicks in, but the R&B-style vocals take it more into a Tom Tom Club space. The vocals are distant and ethereal. The song itself is playful, creating a sonic landscape. The effect is trippy. At times, across the disc, there's a sense of detachment, which is a big part of what makes this a good personal soundtrack.
Over the course of Machine Dreams, Little Dragon evokes elements of Missing Persons (e.g. Dale Bozio vocals and a stiff retro keyboard) and Feist (sparse musical elements and simple detached vocals). There are plenty of pleasant moments, but another standout track is Come Home.
Come Home throws a syncopated beat behind a low, bassy groove, with odd synth fills. The chorus comes on synth-orchestral with plenty of space between the parts. The chord progression is engaging (no straight 1-4-5 here) and the noisy bits of the synth sound open up the song for repeated listenings.
Fortune kicks off with a verse that's musically straight out of Atlantic Rhythm Section's Imaginary Lover crossed with Simply Red. Like several of the songs here, there's a progressive rock element here, too. The mood is interesting in a low key way. The arrangement is coherent, progressing through the set of changes: pleasantly surprising, but inevitable.
I'm sipping on a margarita. It's sweet, but the tart, tangy, earth taste still surprises.
Tom Tom Club, Genius of Love
Missing Persons, Destination Unknown
Feist, 1 2 3 4
Atlanta Rhythm Section, Imaginary Lover