Little Dragon kind of got the short end of the stick last year when they dropped their album New Me, Same Us. Mired in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and unable to pursue their planned tour in support of the project, the stellar album got a bit lost in the shuffle. The quartet soldiered on, though, making sure to keep the effort alive with a remix EP that dropped in August. And now they’re leaving 2021 with one last release, their new single “Drifting Out.”
“Drifting Out” is a quiet song that sort of throws back to their breakout song “Twice.” It pairs singer Yukimi Nagano‘s vocal with a dizzying piano line that is almost classical in feel. Yukimi doesn’t let that intimidate her as she sings the soft ballad that points at how crazy of a ride this period has been. “Oh my, it’s been a hell of ride / Giving up, departed too many times / Make me laugh, make me sick, make it die,” she sings. “Let me be, let me steer, let it ride / Deep sleep, crashing waves, heavy tide.” Her poetic approach to songwriting, which usually leaves things just vague enough for multiple interpretations, comes into a bit more focus on the chorus, as she describes being lost in a cloud and needing love to help her find her way.
Being that this is Little Dragon we’re talking about, you knew they weren’t going to leave things so simple, though. They also released two other versions of the song. The first is a remix by artist Kelsey Lu that pitches down and reverbs Yukimi’s vocal and then pairs it with a dark, probing electronic beat that pulses and squeaks before it all dissolves into cloud-like strings. The other take taps notable cellists Jacob Koranyi and Yo-Yo Ma, who play their signature instrument alongside Yukimi’s vocal, with their sound swelling to meet her and then eventually soaring beyond before coming to a hazy close.
We don’t know what 2022 will be bringing from the Little Dragon camp, but we couldn’t ask for a better way to end the year than this.