Label: Indie Recordings Release Date: 12 February 2021
Nordic music has been making huge waves as of late. Sweden is known for a broad variety of killer music spanning over all genres. Finland rather humbly accepts being known for black metal and electronica. Meanwhile, Norway, the “Nord” in Nordic, is often overlooked. Tromsø-based rockers LÜT aim to change that. The group had their start in 2015, successfully releasing Pandion in 2017 to a wave of praise. Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammys) nominated them for New Band of the Year and they released chart-topping hits in Norway and Germany. Fresh out the gate, they have performed at several European festivals and even caught the eye of Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich.
LÜT have a distinctive style, not quite punk and not quite rock n roll. Colorful guitar riffs shade vocalist Markus Danjord’s surprisingly pleasant shrieks, the boys in the back providing a pub-like harmony. Old school meets not quite so old school to make a nostalgic sound with flavors from the present. Every song is a fun ride, always keeping the punk rock theme but adding something new to see what sticks. Fortunately–or perhaps unsurprisingly, knowing these guys’ talent–there isn’t a bad track in the bunch. LÜT are intentionally messy, carefully engineered with the perfect balance of poppy earworms and pop punk grit. The band also proudly take great inspiration from pop punk legends Paramore. Beyond recording, this shows itself in them also asking Mike Schuppan (Paramore, Jimmy Eat World, M83) to mix their latest. After two years of work, LÜT are happy to send Mersmak out into the world.
Titular track Mersmak already shows a production level improvement, drums and bass both boosted to a level you feel pumping. The harmonies from Myrland, Ystmark, and Platt are a wonderful complement to Danjord’s less-than-piercing vocals. Eventually, the trio overtakes Danjord for a fun chorus sing-along that would make a non-native want to learn Norwegian. Strictly Business is a bit faster, Engvik practically demanding you to pound your feet in time to the drums. Like Mersmak, this track also melts into a catchy sing-along. It’s easy to tell that these songs would be fantastic live in a bar whose floor is sticky with beer.
LÜTetro is slower but hits harder, Platt doing some nice work on the bass and outweighing the more muted guitars. Here, one can hear Danjord on keys, and it adds what is almost class to a normally brash band. Ingenting Å Angre På is very interesting in its composition, shifting moods as quickly as the guitar fills. This is far from unenjoyable and adds a more thoughtful feel to the track. A break about halfway through gives the space to reflect and have presumably nothing to regret, as the title implies.
Engvik sends the drums thumping to open Bangkok Nonstop while Myrland and Ystmark lay out some lovely riffs. This track has a more classic pop punk feel and evokes nostalgia for late nights with friends and house parties. We Will Save Scandirock makes a bold statement for itself, especially for being so short. However, like everything else LÜT has put out, its confidence is due to knowing how good it really is. It is key to point out the direction the guitars go here, becoming more complex and wandering than other tracks.
Another slow song is Homme Fatale, which has the assistant vocals from Mats Devik of Norwegian pop rockers Cazadores. The instruments here take a backseat for the vocals, casually couching even Danjord’s hushed wails in a softer melody. VIEPÅ keeps up the slow pace, which gives the listener a bit of whiplash when Danjord’s normal vocals come in. The dissonance doesn’t really go away, the rest of the band’s mellow beats not reaching Danjord’s energy.
The penultimate track, Krei., is the shortest on the album. At under two minutes, this is a charming instrumental piece that fades out and into the last track. INDIÄ is significantly different from other songs LÜT have put out. Long, slow, and a touch sinister, this track almost edges into post rock territory if you exclude the vocals. Fans of other tracks may be confused by the sound, but it’s some welcome experimentation that works in LÜT‘s favor. It’s not clear whether the band is branching out or just trying something new. Whatever the case, this is definitely one of the more memorable tracks on the album and closes it out nicely.
LÜT make music for kids that never grew up, and for punks that definitely did. Their music is well-crafted and as catchy and fun as it is unique, successfully creating a new flavor of pop. This group may be new but they won’t be small for long. With this release, LÜT have gotten one step closer to their goal of being one of the greats. The album really speaks for itself: Mersmak is a taste for more.
- Markus Danjord (he/him) – Vocals, keys
- Ørjan Myrland (he/him) – Guitar, vocals
- Mads Ystmark (he/him) – Guitar, vocals
- Marius Platt (he/him) – Bass, vocals
- Sveinung Engvik (he/him) – Drums (studio)
- Jonas Lilletun (he/him) – Drums
- Strictly Business
- Ingenting Å Angre På
- Bangkok Nonstop
- We Will Save Scandirock
- Homme Fatale