Way Out West: Lutra

Posted: by The Editor

FFO: The Postal Service, Hellogoodbye, Alex G

Lutra 4

(PC: Garrett Linck)

What most appeals to me about bedroom-pop, is the notion that this music was made in a bedroom. The genre label itself implies feelings of both informality as well as intimacy. I believe it is this intimacy and vulnerability that authenticates the genre and those artists which can be classified as under it. Intimate, vulnerable, and authentic are all words I would used to describe Portland, OR’s Lutra – bedroom synth pop aficionados. I was first taken off-guard by this dynamic duo when I saw them live, as they assembled nothing but two synthesizers. As it turns out, two synthesizes was all they would need to blow us away. Seeming more like a good morning confession to a lover rather than lyrics for audience consumption– words detailing vocalist Emit Martin’s self contemplation, hours spent listening to Built to Spill with an assumed partner, and of course the existential thoughts we all have–  spill out across the drum machine driven and at times danceable soft pop “instrumentals.” Their unique and pinched voice is enthralling and adorable, only adding to the sweet nature of the songs. What most sets Lutra apart from other bedroom pop acts though, is the lack of monotony. At no moment does the music feel too repetitive or redundant, nor does it ever seem as if it’s droning. Partner in crime Ryan Gamblin can often be seen live twisting and turning knobs, constantly changing the given sound and emotion evoked from song-to-song.

Even within the given genre label, it’s clear that Martin and Gamblin pay no mind to conforming to the finer details of the genre, and are frequently experimenting and pushing traditional boundaries. Bedroom-pop in our day and age has become almost synonymous with terms like “tumblr-pop” or “lo-fi internet indie”. Accessibility being the genre’s biggest strength, is also its biggest weakness. Just about anyone can make synth pop these days, and in a somewhat over-saturated market, Lutra is constantly shape-shifting within their lofi pop identity. My personal favorite of their releases Something In Me, is quirky and endearing– showcasing their upbeat yet traditional bedroom pop sound. Their latest EP my bed frequently incorporates more chiptune elements, coming across at times as a whimsical video game soundtrack from your childhood. Lutra is the quaint band that will steal your heart unexpectedly and next thing you know they’ve been on repeat for the whole day.

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