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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #32: Little Dragon - Ritual Union

Earlier this year, theneedledrop’s Anthony Fantano posted a video about albums to get it on to. You know, records to put on when you’re in the mood. Sex. What music, if any, do you put on to dramatize your coitus to cinematic proportions? It was a question that sparked a discussion in my mind that I’ve been having ever since. The video’s impetus was the release of Little Dragon’s Ritual Union.

I disagree with Mr. Fantano, though. While I may have very little experience with the sexy time, (Full disclosure: Homeboy still has his v-card) I don’t think Ritual Union would be the go-to album of the year to soundtrack it. There’s no doubt the album’s sensual, but it’s ripe with sexual tension, not release. When I hear Ritual Union, I don’t think of making love. I think of a dank, sepulchral sock hop in which pale white girls with long black hair stare at the ground while they shimmy like a friend recently told me you’re supposed to do when you listen to the xx. (I had no idea.)

Ritual Union is for erotically grinding against that special someone between thin sheets of clothing. But sex? Hardly. Songs like “Nightlight” and “Shuffle a Dream” are so shamelessly propulsive, there’s no way I’d keep from cracking up at the silliness of it all. Songs like the title track, “Little Man” and “Precious” were clearly engineered for dancing, and not the horizontal kind. And what the hell am I supposed to do during the six minutes of “When I Go Out”? Is that the part where I come too early and have to awkwardly explain to the girl that I’ll be fine to go again in an hour or so? Count me out.

I think we can all agree that the best album for fucking this year was The Weeknd’s House of Balloons, even though said fucking would probably be more appropriate with a “hate” prefix. However, Ritual Union is still the better album, because it keeps a more consistent groove and, frankly, it has the better songs. That we can have an honest discussion about whether or not it’s appropriate to put it on while we mash cookies is a testament to its versatility. I may not play it while I have sex, but there’s a good chance I’ll put it on while I go grocery shopping this week. I’m bound to think about sex at some point during that trip.


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