Den-Mate – XOSO

‘XOSO’ is the third single to be released from Den-Mate’s upcoming album Loceke, yet it may be its most dynamic. The Jules Hale-directed project sprung from the artist’s rural Virginia bedroom, has since put down roots in the area’s major metropolis, Washington D.C. And it’s that rubbed-down concrete that acts as the catalyst for the feelings and imagery behind the track.

Focused by a trudging, unwavering beat, but blurred by withdrawal sweat, ‘XOSO’ finds its “runaway teen living in the city” narrator wandering in a drug induced haze. They are “trying to get by balancing their struggle with addiction”, which they “romanticize”. For the listener there is something ugly about the haunted talk-singing that seems to blindly push forward, and that’s where the beauty is. It’s obsessed, possessed, and it’s comforting to know what will put one’s exhaustive hunger to bed.

Rather than relying on the incredibly popular dream pop-vibe that inhabits much of the bedroom pop buoyed by the indie circuit, ‘XOSO’ digs deeper into that Bristol sound that dominated the underground in the early 90s. Memories of Trainspotting spin through as Mark Renton epiphanies, “Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

Peace and balance come with the knowledge of how to fill a need and the sun-baked streets one must be walked to obtain the necessary stuff. It can also be found by putting down roots and knowing your past and present.

Den-Mate has added an extra layer to it’s already stellar dream pop sound by digging deeper into its sonic origin. The wavy repeating riff can now be traced back further, along with that relentless beat, providing a sturdier anchor. But the project’s progress also extends from a jump in its storytelling ability, one that comes from knowing the tales of one’s home and being able to translate it into the world they now inhabit.

‘XOSO’ is able to take the stuff Hale has learned over time, and turn it into a thing that exists in the present. She explains that the song, “draws upon the feelings of recognizing your own toxic health issues and struggling to weigh this against the pleasures of the habit.” Here, Den-Mate recognizes its own origins and uses that knowledge to take a step forward in their craft.


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