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On my first listen to Oso Oso’s new single ‘Impossible Game’, one particular lyrical refrain got stuck in my head and refused to budge: “Well sometimes you do as you feel/Well most times I feel like shit.” Carried along by singer/songwriter Jade Lilitri’s soft croon and delicate acoustic strumming, the verse featured Lilitri’s signature blend of upbeat, conquer-the-world optimism, tempered with a solid helping of self-deprecating, real-world pessimism. So, when the chorus finally arrived, kicking down the door with some welcome power chords and Lilitri’s mission statement (“I got a glimpse of this feeling / I’m trying to stay in that lane”), I couldn’t help but relate.
My first encounter with Long Island’s Oso Oso was back in 2017 with the release of ‘The Yunahon Mixtape’. As a solo project with Lilitri at the helm, the band’s exceptional second full-length release was packed to brim with third-wave emo bangers, combining Lilitri’s knack for saccharine hooks, deadpan lyricism and delicate guitar lines, along with a range of melodic, mid-range tempos and some steady percussion provided by Lilitri’s friend, Aaron Masih. While 2017 was a rough year for me personally, there was something comforting and uniquely resonant about the feelings and emotions encapsulated by Oso Oso, helping me to get my shit together and stop lamenting the death throes of my late twenties. With a signing to Triple Crown Records shortly after the album’s release, and a while-you-wait teaser in the form of the two-track ‘gb/ol h/nf / subside’ to tie fans over, it’s now finally time to dive headfirst into Oso Oso’s highly-anticipated third LP, ‘Basking In The Glow’.
The press release for the album describes Lilitri as being “radically committed to letting the light in, if only because [he] knows the darkness like the back of his hand.” It’s this sense of a tonal shift that’s clearly evident upfront, with the one-two combo of ‘Intro’ and ‘The View’. The legacy of ‘The Yunahon Mixtape’ opener ‘The Cool’ weighs heavy on Lilitri’s lyricism in both tracks, with the possibility of disaster prefaced by a lack of imagination in ‘Intro’ (“Never thought twice, no I never thought at all/Always coming up short, ‘cos you’re dreaming so small”), leading to a preference for isolation as self-induced damnation on ‘The View’ (“So don’t ask, ‘cos I never could tell/All I need is four walls to make it my own hell”).
Musically, much of ‘Basking In The Glow’ revels in this struggle between light and dark, actualised through a combination of moody contemplative tracks and Oso Oso’s trademark shimmering, anthemic bangers. The album’s title track features a galloping rhythm section and a verse-chorus interplay that’s reminiscent of a Side B cut from Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Bleed American’. Single ‘Dig (II)’ benefits from a slow-burn build up in the verses and intricate harmonies in the chorus, before Lilitri’s bridge section bursts through with radiance and effervescence, making for one of the album’s rousing highlights.
Elsewhere on the record, it’s clear that Lilitri is more than confident in flexing his songwriting skills for variations in texture and emotion. ‘One Sick Plan’ takes a standard acoustic number and drenches it in fuzz and crackle, sounding like something bursting through an AM car radio. ‘Impossible Game’ and ‘A Morning Song’ take the radio-rock format and bend it firmly to Lilitri’s will, streamlining his emo genuflections for power and punch. Acting as both misnomer and literal indicator, ‘Priority Change’ switches out urgency for patience with a mid-tempo pit-stop, before ‘Wake Up Next To God’ goes full throttle with punk rock harmonies and three-minutes of sugar-sweet celebration that would make the likes of Joyce Manor blush heavily. Closer ‘Charlie’ rounds the album out with a sombre, melancholic reflection on someone close and offers one final and very fitting sing-along in the darkness: “And in the end I think that’s fine / cause you and I had a very nice time.” Yeah, me too.
While not as immediately catchy and as resonant as ‘The Yunahon Mixtape’ was, Oso Oso’s third album is a brilliant exploration of the light and dark at play in everyday life. For those willing to take the album’s title quite literally, ‘Basking In The Glow’ provides a fitting soundtrack to meaningful solace and quiet introspection, as Jade Lilitri broods away in your ear canal offering glimmers of radiance from the darkest of shadows.
- The View
- Basking In The Glow
- One Sick Plan
- A Morning Song
- Priority Change
- Wake Up Next To God
- Impossible Game
‘Basking In The Glow’ is out via Triple Crown Records on August 16th. You can find physical and digital copies of the record at the band’s website here.