DIIV: Is The Is Are

Joshua Palk


DIIV’s latest foray into the Shoe-Gaze/ Dream-pop turf ‘Is the Is Are’ is the long awaited seminal piece to the bands first and critically acclaimed album Oshin. Much like its predecessor Oshin, the band frame and cement the album firmly amongst some of the most affluent modern day examples of its genre. The bands mastery and obsession with sonic textures and tonality allows for the pieces to be aurally stimulating, but yet very cohesive with the bands style and dynamic. This could also be said for the flow of the album, tracks pass carefully and naturally, each merging with the next, allowing you to kick back and immerse yourself in an upbeat, melodically engaging and rhythmically euphoric hour of Shoe-Gaze bliss.

Highly anticipated and long awaited, the album was not the strong change of style front man Zach Cole Smith had promised, but in fact a more matured and formulated version of the style the band had previously harnessed in their sophomore album. The more mature style demonstrates the prowess the band has for creating brilliant soundscapes and intriguing guitar based rock.

The band cast up momentum and keep this driving force present throughout the album. The floating tones, not too dissimilar of that of fellow Brooklynites The War On Drugs, conjures thoughts of a beaming gold sunset, drunkenness, summer time adventure and teenage carelessness. It’s the sort of music that embodies a certain time of life, evokes memories of teenage rebellion and lighthearted thoughtlessness.

The ideas of doubt, absentmindedness and sense of freedom and that the album proposes drive up thoughts of late 90’s America, and the similar 90’s grunge rock scene in the UK. The recent scandal of the rebellious front man, Zach Cole Smith, caught in a drugs controversy with girlfriend Sky Ferreria, further reinforces the tone and sound of the album, giving a new listener a deep insight to the band and the subverted meanings in the album.

Lasting over an hour, it’s possible to think of the piece as overly self-indulgent with its unchanging tones, relentless rhythms and drones scaling. This lack of contrast may deter a listener looking for a great deal of variety or an observer wanting to be presented with a wider range of musical scope. Although this variety does not present itself, the album is solid in doing what it offers, a driving and well thought out offering to the Shoe-Gaze genre. This is definitely an album to lay out in the cold Cornish sun too, take in those rays, crack open a beverage and drown yourself in a gripping, ‘thoughts of summer’ inducing piece of ear candy.