A mask of levity cracks under emotional pressure on osquinn’s sophomore EP.
Somewhere in the last couple of years there was a serious changing of the guard regarding the trends that rule the underground. Sugar-laced, hyperactive and obsessively melodic pop music has come to replace the emo-inspired half rapped half sung core as the epicentre of scenic growth. osquinn, formerly known as p4rkr, is amongst those pushing this forward but even so they don’t quite sit within the lines. In doing most of her musical work herself she intentionally denies comparisons to the music of other key players, which casts an even more striking contrast when she shows up on their tracks, like on “#goonnshit”, with kevinhilfiger and Aura. Atop all of it there’s an entirely uncaring confidence, the type of assuredness that only comes from detachment and towering layers of ironic shielding; online, osquinn’s image is made up of twitter rants defining new genres (amongst them “acoustic drain”, which, frankly, is well overdue) and covering “The Duck Song”. osquinn makes music for internet addiction – overstimulated, rapid, breaking at the seams.
“bleh”, osquinn’s second EP, is yet her best attempt at speaking through the screen, letting go of some starkly honest ideas without the brashness of “bad idea” or purer sorrow of “mbn”. The lyrics of “bleh” talk about people with realism and respect; “anything” discusses the dissolution of a partnership as two individuals trip repeatedly over lies, shortfalls and insecurities. “You left me out to rot” is a damning line, but soon evolves into “You know me, okay, then show me, oh wait you can’t, I ain’t opened up to you”. The writing is clustered and spiralling, clashing with the wirey playfulness of blackwinterwells’ beat. The atmosphere is defined by the hum underlining the synth melodies, a rough edge evoking the unrefined nature of argument.
Second track “ok im cool” dives into a darker sonic palette, again courtesy of blackwinterwells. In line with typical osquinn style the drums are fast and fleeting, striking with inconsistent velocity like bullets flying past the ear at different angles. Lyrically “ok im cool” feels like a burnout off the back of “anything”; “wait no I’m cool, don’t worry about me, I think I’ll be fine as long as I’m following the rules” is a hellish phrase from an artist so ardent about altering the norm in their work, an exhausted surrender amplified by a despondent tone of voice. “Feel like there’s a barricade”, continues osquinn, doubling down on the hopelessness of the situation.
At the end of “bleh” there’s no clear winner. The writing is such that the narrative feels evenly unbalanced, the audience ascends a rope ladder held up by frayed knots as each line cuts the threads a little more. This EP is a signal of potential more than anything – the brevity of “bleh” (just four minutes long) is an unfortunate restraint, as there’s far more that can be done with this concept. osquinn seems far too fugitive to revisit a project though – hopefully whatever comes next expands and deepens the story.
Listen to “bleh” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)