Swedish electronic group Little Dragon takes a low-key approach on the follow-up to 2017’s Season High. For one thing, the Lover Chanting EP features just three new songs, plus an edited version of the title track that runs two minutes shorter. It’s also not as far-flung in terms of the sound: instead of expansive stylistic explorations and Prince homages, the new songs flow together like the foursome intended them to serves as the basis for a mini-set in a club. There’s still a pronounced early ’80s influence at work, though it tilts more toward Michael Jackson this time around.
The title track drifts along easily on an airy rhythm, with a late-disco synth bassline. With her silky delivery and firm sense of the beat, frontwoman Yukimi Nagano sounds like she’s been studying Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” though “Lover Chanting” is less propulsive in its forward motion. Second song “In My House” doesn’t start so much as fade in, and the same crisp rototom percussion sound used on the opener provides a sense of continuity, even as the rhythm pattern shifts and the vibe turns moodier. Third song “Timothy” allows a whistling synth to floats behind the vocal line, and adds a hand-clap beat that could have been taken from any number of R&B jams circa 1981. Still, the song features Nagano’s best vocal performance on the EP. She balances the soulful, dusky tone of her voice with a certain breathy quality, winding her way through a subtly commanding melody that’s designed to circulate through your subconsciousness.
Mostly, Lover Chanting feels like a cautious return. It’s not breaking new ground, but Little Dragon have shown enough creativity over the last decade to suggest that a momentary dabbling in the past will lead to an inventive future.