Oso Oso has crafted together a modern classic about the continuous struggle to find the bright side.
Nostalgia is a funny thing.
Have you ever listened to an album that made you feel nostalgic toward a time in which the music you are listening to did not exist? The opposite is obvious - that’s what the best music does - it reminds you of a time, it demands your mind to visit that place again and feel the way you felt at that point in your life whether it be handcuffed to a positive or negative memory.
But the question that I’m proposing is the idea of feeling nostalgic for something that never existed in the first place. I know that sort of defeats the tenderness of something feeling “nostalgic” but while listening to Oso Oso’s latest full length album, basking in the glow, I’m immediately taken back to feelings of being in high school, skateboarding in the Summer, thinking about girls and listening to bands like Saves the Day or The Juliana Theory.
There is a certain..emo-ness (I’m sorry for that one) to this album that is hard to explain without giving direct examples. The two that I already mentioned, for sure - outside of that, possibly, I don’t know, Jimmy Eat World? The point being, emotion pours out of basking in the glow but not in a way that ever necessarily feels heartbreaking. It’s almost as if frontman Jade Lilitri finds comfort in simply feeling something and instead of wallowing in the negatives, he reaches upward in search for hope. That’s the thing about this album - it encourages you to look for the best in not only every situation, but everybody as well. And even though it may be difficult to do at times, accepting something simply as it is can often be the best way of moving forward
This is essentially a breakup record - but again, in Lilitri’s retrospection, it more-so tells the story of this relationship in a “glad it happened” sort of reminiscence as opposed to some sort of spiteful one. There’s not much angst here and I mean that in the absolute best way possible - it’s mature, it’s understanding and frankly, it’s down-right wonderful.
A perfect example of this notion exists in track two, “the view”, in which Lilitri proclaims “I’ll grow, we’ll see. There’s something good in me” - a track that succeeds the introduction of the album simply called “intro”. This one-two punch drives home the theme of this album early on and sets the stage as to what to expect over the course of the next thirty-five minutes or so. And if “intro” exists as a sort-of dream-like prologue then “the view” serves to grab hold of each of the listeners wrists and drag them back to reality - without spoiling anything, that’s the best metaphor I can possibly make.
The title track “basking in the glow” sees Jade evaluating the current state that he is in - what is my purpose, what does this all mean, is anything good going to happen to me any time soon? It’s a post breakup song that, like I stated earlier, despite it’s subject matter, finds a way to look toward the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. “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” Lilitri sings, hesitantly, as he comes to grips with the way things are and hopes that maybe it’s all for a reason.
The record transitions beautifully into the first track released from basking in the glow titled “dig” which is where the Juliana Theory comparison I made earlier really shines. The layered vocals in this track, as well as essentially the entire album, share the same aesthetic that band used to create and they do so with such grace that it’s endearing. It’s worth noting that the album version of “dig” also includes an extended outro that the single version of the track did not contain - a nice treat for all of the listeners that played that song to hell over the last month or so.
It’s around “one sick plan” that you may start to wonder “is this one of the best albums my ass has ever heard?” Which, I know, seems and is hyperbolic. It’s way too early to make such a statement but, man, these songs hit you - with the way Jade writes his lyrics and incorporates them into his songs, every line feels more relatable than the last - and sure, everyone’s gone through a breakup and every musician has written a song about it but there’s something about the way he pairs the two that feels sincere - like he’d be writing these songs for himself regardless if he was to ever release them out to the era of the general public. It’s clear that he uses his talent as a form of therapy - he can work through his misfortunes by turning them into art, just as many artists and creators do.
This track steps away from the full-band sound that we heard in the last three tracks and brings out the acoustic guitar we were introduced to in “intro” alongside a raw, bitcrushing effect which pairs nicely with the bare-bones intimacy that is being represented.
The band comes back on stage for the albums next act with a set of songs that keep the pace of the album moving and the funny thing about the first of those, “a morning song”, is that it genuinely feels like exactly what the title says it is.
You know how sometimes you feel a certain way at night - upset, frustrated, angry, etc. and you essentially decide just to sleep it off. Something happens during that time and the simpleness of a morning - of the sun on the trees, the birds in your ear that makes you realize that something isn’t as drastic as you made yourself believe it was just a few hours ago? Somehow this song seems to capture that feeling and carries it all the way into “priority change”.
Again, this song is properly named as it serves as the purpose of the realization of the track before it. “I feel my chest start to swell and my feet start to sway. Tread into new ground - a priority change” Jade sings as he realizes that the universe isn’t just going to fix every problem that he has and in order to progress and make real change in your life you have to to change your priorities and get yourself some of that “self love” everyone’s always raving about.
“wake up next to god” is the shortest song on the album that isn’t the introduction and that’s represented by the momentum the track carries as well - it’s fast, short and to the point - one that’s almost a rebound from the songs before it - where the singer finds himself feeling cynical about the situation - a sidestep from the forward moving train he’d like to find himself riding on. But that’s all part of the process - not every day is a step forward although, like the fast paced nature of the song seems to represent, it’s short lived when you know how to call it exactly as it is - a setback.
“impossible game” was the second track we were introduced to from this album and as the final act of basking in the glow starts to show its face, the track takes on new meaning as it feels like the albums resolution. Jade is honest with himself as he admits some truths he had most likely been denying himself for some time.
“Slow down - feels like we’re rushing away. Trying to hold on is an impossible game. And I know I’m wrong, what else can I say? I’ve got a glimpse of this feeling - I’m trying to stay in that lane” Jade sings as he drags his way through normal every day life, which is the same as it’s always been even if what he’s dealing with mentally is vastly different that what it had been before he found himself in this mess.
Just as “Intro” was this albums prologue, “charlie” is exactly that of an epilogue. So many of us have been through exactly what this track describes in great detail - that moment after a breakup where you think you have a chance. That moment where your former significant other seems to be letting their guard down and allowing things to quite possibly go back to the way that they used to be. Maybe it’s sincere, maybe it’s all in your head - shit, maybe you’re picking up on hints that don’t exist and creating a scenario that is vastly different than what’s actually happening.
It’s that feeling of closure - represented here by the albums last moments, that give way for a human beings ability to finally move on. You spend so many nights and weekends wondering not just what went wrong and what you could have done differently, but what you can change about yourself to prove to this person that things could be different in a second go-around.
But sometimes that’s just not what’s in the cards. Jade’s realization hits him like a ton of bricks but at the same time he crawls his way out of them and feels that weight leave his shoulders as he understands that sometimes things can be over, but that it isn’t exactly a bad thing.
basking in the glow ends the same way it began - honest, pure - but also, finally, it’s evened out with something that had been missing previously - some clarity.
In a subtle, relaxed voice Jade sings to us, and more importantly to himself, “and in the end I think that’s fine, ‘cause you and I had a very nice time.”
Oso Oso - basking in the glow
02 the view
03 basking in the glow
05 one sick plan
06 a morning song
07 priority change
08 wake up next to god
09 impossible game