“Laying in the grass, we were dragging on loud/Got my hand in your hand and my head in the clouds.”
This is the scene, set with acoustic atmospherics and frontman Jade Lilitri’s familiar, layered, honey-sweet-but-burnt-around-the-edges vocals, that flickers to life at the start of oso oso’s new full-length, basking in the glow. The track, simply called “intro,” is just that: an intimate, humble, and hopeful prologue that prefaces a record radically committed to letting the light in—because Lilitri knows the darkness like the back of his hand.
The spacious opening proposition of “intro” gives way to “the view,” an electric, invigorating indie rock banger that showcases Lilitri’s slick, effortless melodic excellence and lyrical precision (“I’ll grow, we’ll see/There’s something good in me”). The title track follows, driving home the record’s thesis on a chorus like a roman candle cracking a mid-July night sky: “These days, it feels like all I know is this phase/I hope I’m basking in the glow of something bigger I don’t know.”
Lead single “dig” rounds out this first act with rainy-day riffing and hushed, staccato vocal delivery on the verse before its tense, charged chorus: “There’s this hole in my soul/So how far do you wanna go?” Lilitri asks, his voice ethereal and couched in bubblegum harmony. It’s a slow build, twining the best parts of emo around pop punk sensibilities and, eventually, wide-open alt-rock anthemics at the track’s climax before sinking back, in a slow-motion fall, to a deserted shoegaze outro. It’s an ambitious, complex scheme, and one that captures the spirit of the record: clutching tight to the unbridled glee of the short, sunny, major-key moments before they dissolve.
basking in the glow is a wrestle, and it is hard work; it is the sound of refusing to capitulate to darkness, every goddamn day. It is a practice, or perhaps a battle plan (“I see my demise, I feel it coming/I got one sick plan to save me from it,” Lilitri sings, his voice and hurried guitar crackling as if they’re coming through a bedroom tape recorder.) It is filled with the delightful, subtle melodic imagination that characterizes the sound Lilitri has perfected with oso oso, but this time out, he’s put this sound to use declaring happiness (“I got a glimpse of this feeling, I’m trying to stay in that lane,” on “impossible game”) and sketching out, with keen, desperate detail, warm memories to hold onto (“‘Oh c’mon Charlie, a little louder’/I say as I hear her singing out from the shower,” on “charlie”).
This “one sick plan” and its bright disposition does falter and fade. The darkness does return—it always will—but Lilitri has come to terms with it, armoring himself with the good he’s found. Even as the record ends with a relationship’s demise, Lilitri is clear-eyed, leaving us squarely in the sunlight: “And in the end I think that’s fine/Cause you and I had a very nice time.”