By Connor Iapoce
Two steps forward, one step back. And then, hopefully, another step forward. It’s all about making progress, even if it is a long road ahead.
That’s the underlying theme of Oso Oso’s third album, “Basking in the Glow,” from Triple Crown Records. Oso Oso is the project of Long Island native Jade Lilitri, not a newcomer to the emo and pop-punk scene, but quickly becoming a scene staple.
“Basking in the Glow” is already racking up critical acclaim, including Best New Music on Pitchfork, and it’s easy to see why. Lilitri crafted an instantly accessible album with perfect pop hooks and melodies, but the record is an imaginative exploration of happiness, and the lyrics dictate its perpetual pursuit.
The record emerges with the sweet, acoustic “Intro,” a light song of sitting in the grass and trying to make sense of it all, with lyrics like “Something’s little off/Now, nothing’s ever right/I’ve got two souls fighting for the same spotlight.”
The second track, “The View,” champions the thesis, “Think I’ve been making progress in microscopic strides.” He’s not experiencing a stalemate in growth, but getting better one day at a time.
The album commencement anticipates the struggle of beating back the darkness, and that theme carries throughout the 10 tracks. Standout songs like “The View” and “Basking in the Glow” carry a sickeningly catchy tune, with jangly guitar hooks and driving drums, but hidden behind the saccharine singing, the lyrics know the good days are forever fleeting.
Oso Oso’s guitar-heavy music is reminiscent of 90s pop-rock and early 2000s pop-punk. Melodic, hazy guitars swell behind Lilitri’s straightforward pop vocals. The guitars shine in simple ways that you may expect, like the beginning punk riff sprinting forward in “Wake Up Next to God” and the slick, thicker edges of the guitars in “Impossible Game.”
There are also the moments where you find yourself surprised by the guitars. A constant flow of a chill, airy atmosphere of melodic hooks are separated by a post-punk riff at the end of “Dig” and continue in the hiss and pops of a lo-fi, basement acoustic guitar in “One Sick Plan.”
Lilitri sings, “Well I see my demise/I feel it coming/ I’ve got one sick plan to save me from it.”
It’s a last-ditch effort not to fall back into that same hole, but it’s tough to remain committed to finding the light. It echoes the album’s title — that when you find the light at the end of the tunnel, you deserve to bask in its glow.
The instantly accessible track feels like a turning point in the album of deep introspection leading to the understanding that maybe everything won’t work out, and that’s OK.
In “Wake Up Next To God,” Lilitri replays the scenes of a broken relationship in his head by singing, “Maybe I’ll figure out what it means, When I mean more to myself.”
In “Basking in the Glow,” he ponders his headspace with lyrics such as, “These days, it feels like all I know is this phase/I hope I’m basking in the glow.”
In “Impossible Game,” the lyrics “And I know I’m wrong, what else can I say?/I got a glimpse of this feeling, I’m trying to stay in that lane” focus on looking forward down that road because the end is just within reach.
The album carries the weight of losing a relationship or at least losing that feeling of a life that’s now gone, but the progress comes from growth and moving on without regret.
In the album’s closer “Charlie” Lilitri sings, “I know it has to end/We’ll just play pretend, pretend/ Yeah, I think that’s fine/‘Cause you and I had a very nice time”.
Oso Oso’s “Basking in the Glow” is a late summer attempt at keeping those sunnier dog days in mind as the colder days draw near. The record has no solution, but inspires one to keep grasping at the light, even when taking those small steps becomes difficult.
“Basking in the Glow” resonates like a soundtrack to a coming-of-age, when the world starts to turn and isn’t always in your favor, but one day it might be.
And yeah, the album slaps.