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CD REVIEW: Little Dragon's Ritual Union 

THE DEAL: Electronica quartet from Sweden releases its third album.

THE GOOD: There's been a lot of buzz around Little Dragon in recent years, and an impressive performance (along with VV Brown) at The Milestone in March 2010 helped draw large expectations for the band's latest studio effort. My initial impression was one of disappointment — more on that later. Singer Yukimi Nagano's vocals remain the focal point ahead of the digital backdrop. They're not powerful in the volume, but convey messages through their soothing tone and straightforward delivery. A handful of tracks in, the band gets re-energized with "Please Turn," but it's a too little, too late.

THE BAD: With three musicians backing up Nagano, you'd expect something more complex than what's offered here — what sounds like it could have been delivered on a simple drum machine. The rhythms are lifeless, leaving the listener to wonder if it was done with purpose to showcase Nagano's voice in a minimalist setting or if it was just lazy.

THE VERDICT: I feel like a parent talking to a child who just brought home a borderline failing grade and want to scold them for not putting more effort into it — "You know you're better than this, so why would you become so complacent in your effort?!" I know these songs have the ability to get new life in a live setting, but until then, I'm thinking they need to be sent to "time out."

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