Comprised of Lucas A. Engel (vocals & guitar), Andres Schneir (bass), and Willy Sarmiento (drums), Lucas & the Woods is an R&B/pop/funk trio based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They started out in 2013 and amassed much attention from international press with their soulful single “No Es Amor.”
Back in January of this year, Lucas & The Woods took us into the fizzy screens and navy beams with their music video “No Es Amor” (“It’s Not Love”). The vocals were embedded within the 80s soulful melody, making it more of a dancefloor-friendly piece anyone could hum their way through the language barrier – if such was an issue. Rhythmic aesthetics aside, it offered a young outlook of desire disguised as faux love. And this is how L&TW embarked into the spotlight, straying from the boy band idealistic mentality and refashioning the 80s/90s R&B with their own realistic polish of millennial romance.
Their debut self-titled EP feels like a flashback of tape-era soul that extracts the effervescent smokiness of 80’s Prince-reign, framed with du jour synthpop elements. All throughout, the trio explores imperfect love, urban life, and self-awareness, providing a peek-a-boo glance into the existentialist and primitive mindscape of their sub-consciousness. If you exclude the three ambient songs (“Intro,” “5 11:11,” and “Outro”), there are five ballads in total that take off with their hit-centric single, “No Es Amor.”
Included in their atmospheric palette, 90s nostalgia is a hue present in most of their EP – especially in their third track, “Hey, Vos” (“Hey, You”), where the video captures the suburban days zeitgeist of watching box-shaped TV and listening to Walkman. “Hey, Vos” substantiates the inner insecurities and craving to find meaning beyond one’s hometown to fill in the existential void. The thumping synth cadence, punctuated with “Hey,” has the most pop gearing beats, inviting the listener to handclap and dance sideways.
Suburban vs. urban life is a recurring motif, where the city life presents hope and break from the mundane pace of one’s hometown. But when L&TW finally takes us into “En La Ciudad” (“In The City”), there is an undertone of lovelorn and solitude despite the surrounding lights. And rather than pumping high-tempo disco, they slow down sonically and croon for the presence of an individual. Placing “Hey, Vos” and “En La Ciudad” next to each other, L&TW reminds us of the adolescence to adulthood transition where the present realm does not match our youthful daydreams and sometimes not even a city can make up for a person.
A soft intermission in the EP, “5 11:11,” provides a string-glinting moment of rainfall and hushed chorus “¿Qué pasa sí solo somos vos y yo?” (“What happens if it’s only you and I?”), immersing us into a brief instance of one-on-one. The follow up, “Correr” (“Run”), immediately picks up the initial zest again showering us with earth-shaking beats and vocal rush, giving vicarious sensations of running away from something that doesn’t feel right. Instead, it embraces running towards what one wants.
The denouement moment, “Una Parte De Vos” (“A Part Of You”), is a chill bluesy meditation and realization of the impending doom of a relationship, where the other person’s deceitfulness is no longer bearable. “Hay una parte de vos / Que no necesita mi amor / Creo que va ser mejor / No caer en tu trampa” (“There’s a part of you / That doesn’t need my love / I think it’s better / Not to fall into your trap”). Fluctuating from whispery, sultry sonic to gusting choruses, “Una Parte De Vos” is layered with drums and percussions that throb like a bruised heart.
Lucas & The Woods showcases their own flare in the retro/contemporary R&B scene with their EP, which feels altogether a voyeuristic experience into the inner world of a millennial. Being from Argentina, the trio addresses universal subjects such as the unpolished side of romance as well as the existential chaos that any 20-30-something can relate.