Fredrik Kallgren Wallin, bassist of experimental electro-pop quintet Little Dragon, is attempting to explain what the hell their title of their new album, Nabuma Rubberband, means. "Nabuma is this recording artist from Uganda we toured with," he begins, although his explanation is a flight of fancy and wonder as much as it is a full explanation.
"His sister's name is Nabuma, and she came up whilst we were working on the beat for the album's title track," Wallin continues. "In the chorus, Yukimi (Nagano, vocalist) sings about being "blinded by a rubberband", so it became 'Nabuma Rubberband'. Then she kind of became a fictional character, who has powers and stuff." Of course.
This head-scratching explanation mirrors Little Dragon's colourful, inventive approach to their brand of expansive and brilliantly bizarre electro-pop. Since the release of their eponymous debut in 2007, the band (completed by keyboardists Hakan Wirenstrand and Arild Werling, and drummer Erik Bodin) have slowly but surely risen to underground prominence.
Nabuma Rubberband is the group's biggest release yet - in the US it'll be released under Republic Records, who also look after the likes of Drake, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift and Lil Wayne. Despite the major label presence, Wallin insists there was no added pressure on them during the recording process. "We always have pressure, but more from ourselves. We always want to do something better than we've done before, and we always want to create something that you haven't heard," he explains.
However, it seems fans can expect somewhat of a change of sound from the accessible, hook-heavy material of past albums Ritual Union, Machine Dreams, and their aforementioned self-titled debut LP.
"I think the biggest thing is that maybe it's a little bit more of a slow album, actually," reveals Wallin. "People might be expecting more of a harder, faster sound. But we wanted to make an album and we wanted it to be a journey from the first song to the last song, as opposed to a compilation of tracks."
It's a fitting description of Nabuma Rubberband, which does indeed play out like their most cohesive piece of work yet. From the sultry, confrontational tones of opener 'Mirror', to the perky lead single 'Klapp Klapp'; via the moody, urgent disco of 'Paris' to the gentle, bubbling closer 'Let Go', it's a thoroughly satisfying listen throughout.
Nabuma Rubberband will be Little Dragon's fourth album; the band have been together since 1996, collaborated with the likes of Outkast's Big Boi, Gorillaz and Dave Sitek, and their 2007 single 'Twice' featured in moody scenes in US shows Grey's Anatomy, Revenge, and Being Mary Jane. Despite this, mainstream success and radio play has eluded them. Do they hope for Nabuma Rubberband to change this?
"Yeah, who wouldn't want that?" laughs Wallin. "At the same time though, when you hear a song over and over again on the radio, you get sick of it. If it's played too much, you get tired of it, and I don't want people to get tired of our music."
For now, UK fans of Little Dragon can catch the band at Glastonbury and Secret Garden Party this summer. "We've been talking about doing something special for it," says Wallin, referring to Secret Garden Party. Knowing Little Dragon, it's sure to be spectacular.
Nabuma Rubberband is out now. Little Dragon return to the UK later in 2014 for a string of live shows. Dates are below. For more information visit Gigwise Tickets.
Brighton – Corn Exchange – 17th November
Birmingham – Corn Exchange – 18th November
Bristol – o2 Academy – 19th November
Leeds – Met – 21st November
Manchester – Albert Hall – 22nd November
Glasgow – ABC – 23rd November
London – Brixton – 27th November
Oxford – o2 Academy – 29th November