DIIV – Is The Is Are Review

Brooklyn Indie Rockers DIIV return with a follow up on their 2012 album Oshin with their second studio album Is the Is Are. Their particularly predictable strand of Indie slanted dream-pop has not been something ridiculed like their counterparts Swim Deep and Peace etc. At the same time they are far from the standard of Beach House or even the Horrors in mastering the genre. Oshin was the solid debut all of their British ‘B-Town’ counterparts didn’t get as their sound had much more substance to it and an air of genuine quality. The notorious second album is where your reputation is cemented however.


‘Bent (Roi’s Song)’ very much follows the path of many Indie groups who dip their toe into Psychedelica. The loose riffs echo modestly across the track and are underpinned as always by a steady and lightly rumbling bass line. The nonchalant and dazed vocals ink into the instrumentation and it is perhaps because of this, the song progresses uncomfortably and indefinitely until you get the guitars hook in the chorus. Musically, it has a little more mystery to it then most of their Indie counterparts produce. ‘Dopamine’ offers you those loose riffs again with a swooning echo of a vocal which is presented as a little indefinite next to the rest of the instrumentation. Once replicated across the whole track, the whole song sounds unsure of itself until they pour in some ringing guitar solos into the mix and the rhythm becomes more solid. ‘Under the Sun’ is a track with more of a kick and tangible structure to it with more solid percussion behind it. The frayed vocals work better in this environment as it gives an element of depth and light and shade to the track. It is completely plucked from a late 80s indie disco however, so if offer nothing in the way of novelty, but it is a keen rocker of a song. ‘Is the Is Are’ is mirrors TOY but with a little less psychedelia and with those wispy vocals. The tones and variations of the instrumentation are more prominent though. They offer more than one dimension with this track.


‘Blue Boredom’ offers up the same instrumentation and rhythm format that’s on offer in pretty much every track on the album. Sky Ferreira offers up a whispered vocal and provides a welcome variation in the vocal department. You find near identical sounds on ‘Incarnate Devil’ minus the guitar solo they borrowed from a couple of their singles. ‘Healthy Moon’, Loose Ends’ and ‘Dust’ regurgitate sounds from the album you’re already familiar with and just familiar with in general. They would have been able to conceal the lack of variation from track to track with a ten track album, but at seventeen it is a long, tedious slog to get through. ‘Waste of Breath’ is welcome at the end for a couple of new ideas like a distorted guitar solo, but the fact you find joy in such a simple thing is perhaps a clue to the quality of the album. They have really took a step back here with such a lack of imagination and dynamism. An echoed vocal and loose riffs aren’t going to get you anywhere in 2016 and someone should have told DIIV that long, long ago.


DIIV – Is The Is Are = 5.5/10


Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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