Here at Irrational Confidence, our love of opening acts is well documented. Part of the reason I’ve had an almost obsessive devotion to being at shows as early as possible is that I can point to so many bands that I’ve grown to love because they played before the band I showed up to see. That’s how I fell head over heels for Long Island’s Oso Oso. Digging through the announced supporting acts for a Wonder Years show Chase and I were attending, I found 2017’s The Yunahon Mixtape. I was immediately taken in by Jade Lilitri’s lyrics, detailing a group of people falling in and out of love across the album. The album sounds like pop-punk growing up, still with big guitar riffs and decadent choruses (particularly on “reindeer games” and “shoes (the sneaker song)”) but adding in a layer of maturity in the songwriting itself.
Yunahon feels lived in, laying out these sets of doomed lovers in a way that feels like home, like it’s something I’ve done. There’s a section on “the bearer of the truths” where the couple in question trade lines, the character Mariah laying out what they both know, that what they have is good but won’t be forever and the narrator acknowledging that she’s right, but she doesn’t have to explain it. There is a familiarity to knowing the end is coming and choosing to ignore it because the now is good, or at least good enough. Small sections like this are what drew me to Oso Oso and what keep me coming back for more.
Yunahon is an album about darkness. Even the bright spots in the lives of these characters are surrounded by the acknowledgement of the big wave that is to come. In that respect, Oso Oso’s upcoming album Basking in the Glow feels like the response, if not the complete opposite. If Yunahon Mixtape is about knowing the darkness is always coming, Basking in the Glow is about fighting desperately to hold on to the light. Lilitri writes that desperation into being on “One Sick Plan,” (I see my demise, I feel it coming/I’ve got one sick plan to save me from it) showing that he knows that staying in the light is a constant battle, maybe even needing some tactics if we’re going to survive. (As a sidebar, that line reminds me of a brighter version of one of my favorite lines from The Wonder Years’ “Passing Through A Screen Door,” “The first thing that I do when I walk in/ is find a way out for when shit gets bad.” While Dan Campbell sees an ejection as inevitable, Lilitri chooses to fight to stay.) The title track is another example of this cautious optimism. Lilitri sings about only knowing the place that he’s currently in, but still choosing to believe, or at least hope, that this is the glow in which he can warm himself. The album seems to be facing up to the idea that even these moments of joy are potentially fleeting, if not illusory altogether, and while Yunahon Mixtape‘s narrators would have seen this as a depressing yet unavoidable feature of the world we live in, on Basking in the Glow we find something worth celebrating and holding on to for however long it lasts. It asks for us to bask in that joy for the amount of time we have it and to maybe go down swinging in order to keep it a little longer. As Lilitri says on “Impossible Game,” “I got a glimpse of that feeling, I’m trying to stay in that lane.”
Basking in the Glow carries over Oso Oso’s incredible knack for crafting melodies, both vocal and instrumental, and uses that craftsmanship to make it seem easy and obvious for the lyrics to do the heavy lifting. Lead single “dig (ii)” begins with this short, bursting guitar melody that feels like it’s dragging you down the path to see what the band has uncovered. The chorus begins like it would fit in on past albums, speaking of a hole in the very core of the narrator’s soul, but it shifts to invite another in. “So, how far do you want to go?” If The Yunahon Mixtape was about falling apart, together, I see Basking in the Glow as an album about putting it back together. Sometimes that’s something you have to do alone, but it helps to have someone else with you. Oso Oso creates something beautiful on this album, bringing everything that kept me coming back after a chance discovery and giving it a new direction, pointing towards that glow.
You can check out “dig (ii)” below and get Basking in the Glow when it releases on Triple Crown Records on August 16th.