★★★☆

Perhaps the most significant ingredient in Little Dragon’s fifth studio album comes by way of UK producer, James Ford. The Gothenburg four-piece has teamed up with Ford – better known as one half of Simian Mobile Disco – for the follow-up to 2014’s critically acclaimed Nabuma Rubberband. Back then, vocalist Yukimi Nagano was candid about the fact she entered the creative process with no plan whatsoever, resulting in arguably their most left-field, morose output to date. On Season High, it seems Ford has his shoulder of influence firmly to the wheel.

[Little Dragon photo by Ibrahim Kamara]

Little Dragon’s natural dichotomy between downtempo and dancefloor is clearly still alive and well, though Ford’s sway on recent single ‘Sweet’, the seductive club roller ‘Strobe Light’ and the bass hook menace of ‘Push’ invoke all the electro strut and swag of SMD’s brightest debut offerings. ‘High’, the album’s first single, is as velvety an R&B groove as you’re likely to find, while ‘Butterflies’ bookends the first half beautifully with a time-stopping spiral of beatless, multi-synth atmospherics.

Little Dragon’s natural dichotomy between downtempo and dancefloor is clearly still alive and well.

Underpinning everything is an ’80s soul club aesthetic, from the kitsch drum machines, frisky bass and vocoders of opener ‘Celebrate’ (feat. Agge) to the rave’n’roll of ‘The Pop Life’.

Season High largely departs from its predecessor’s melancholy and injects a rejuvenating shot of acrylic 4/4.

Little Dragon’s Season High is out now via Because/Warner.

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