Separately, Swedish electronic band Little Dragon and Toronto jazz outfit BADBADNOTGOOD create the type of lush, ambient ear worms that loop in your brain for days on end. It would make perfect sense for the two to be on the same festival line-up or even tour the world together, globetrotting around unorthodox venue spaces — sweaty, impromptu sets on remote islands or maybe in artificial igloos splashed with neon light?
But let's back up. Baby steps.
After years of mutual admiration and orbiting the same musical circles, the two groups share their first official collaboration — the soft, soulful and unsuspecting "Tried."
Little Dragon's Yukimi Nagano delivers her notes with a buoyant but exasperated tone as the wandering flute and guitar chords nestle her near-breathlessness.
"Blocking my vision / Seeing your smiling and playing the part / Oh my, oh my, the pain inside," she coos.
Nagano tells NPR Music she first received the instrumental from BBNG in late 2017, but kept it for a while before laying lyrics to it. "The simplicity of the music was there and writing on something that already felt together was a fun challenge," Nagano says.
BBNG's Alex Sowinski remembers the band was blown away when it first saw Little Dragon perform years ago at SXSW. "We sent over the instrumental for 'Tried' to share and start a conversation with LD. The song Yukimi wrote over our music continues the spirit of honest lyrics and performance," Sowinski says.
"The lyrics are about helplessness on a personal level, but also in a bigger way — as people chugging along numb feeling helpless in a world that sometimes feels lost of its compassion," Nagano says. "Despite that feeling of despair, it's written with an air of hope."