“Josephine” is a classic crush song: obsessive both in swooning and second-guessing, citing crucial details over familiar Long Island pop punk that reassures the listener that even when it feels like a life or death situation, it’s ultimately not all that serious. Long Beach, NY’s Oso Oso clash pop fluencies against punk harshness rather than melding them together for mass pleasure, setting delicate touches of distortion and uneasiness against bright, melodic sing-song harmonies and lively rhythms. Lighthearted start-and-stop guitar frolics on the sidewalks of a steadily buoyant drumbeat, with bass oozing over the cracks and completing a sun-soaked stroll with the vibrating hum of cicadas. The vocals are flighty, cruising complimentarily alongside the instruments, trailing off at the end of each verse, turning their own instrument of frozen tone as when singer Jade Lilitri aches, “All I want is a moment with someone / where I don’t have to be anything for anyone but myself / We all build our own hell.” Thus completes the pop side of things. The chorus’ full swing into a more constant strum and full distortion quickly hammers notions of punk attitude and tonal force onto the scene, while still remaining catchy. The tasteful juxtaposition of on and off punk affections rejuvenates the sound, introducing more of one, when the other may seem stale.
“Josephine” is off Oso Oso’s forthcoming record, Real Stories of True People Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters, out June 9 on Soft Speak Records.