REVIEW: DIIV – Is The Is Are

As the current holders of 2016’s hardest-to-pronounce album award, Brooklyn slacker-favourites DIIV return with a fitting follow-up to a four-year-old debut in the form of Is The Is Are (seriously, try saying it out loud without sounding like a drunk toddler).

DIIV is the brainchild of former Darwin Deez guitarist Zachary Smith, who cited a Nirvana song as inspiration for the name. Grammatical consistency never lasted though, as the name changed in 2012 prior to the release of the band’s debut, Oshin, that summer.

Does Is The Is Are deliver on their early promise? It depends on what you think a second album should be. The record is definitely a continuation of Oshin rather than a deviation. Dreamy guitars still carry the songs forward, with heavily-reverbed vocals surfing on the top, all above driving beats that feel distinctly summery and make us want to get down to Cornwall despite the train fare and winter chill.

That’s not to say it’s not an improvement on the first album. Like CHVRCHES‘ second offering last year, the songs seem a lot more mature in their composition (despite still making no sense lyrically), and the group are more confident in their sound. Blue Boredom, for example, channels Sonic Youth‘s Tunic Song, and its succeeding track Valentine is more of the sort of indie soft-rock thing you’d hear in-between bands at a gig, or at the start of a club night when everyone’s still at the bar.

There is a danger to newcomers that it all might be a bit same-y as each track follows a loose formula, but the way they pull themselves together is quite brilliant. Take the title track, where the vocal line is slightly off-kilter with the drumbeat, and layered over itself to give a kind of reverse-attack effect. The production value of the tracks is impressive to say the least, and gives the us the feeling that DIIV have come of age and have a lot more to give.

Chris Malla

Is The Is Are by DIIV can be ordered here.

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DIIV - Is The Is Are
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