DIIV

Is The Is Are

Captured Tracks

Feb 03, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice Bookmark and Share


Three and a half years have passed since the release of DIIV's excellent debut, Oshin, (not an unreasonable amount of time) and it appears from the sheer size of Is The Is Are that the band has certainly been hard at work: 17 tracks all under six minutes apiece, an hour and four minutes in total. It speaks to the quality of the band and their appeal that all of that time goes by without a hitch. The record never feels bloated, and in fact feels more urgent than its predecessor. The hooks and the melodies fly by, some of them not more than a passing thought, like the gorgeous little coda that sneaks into the last moments of "Under the Sun." Rather than saving those snippets for later songs or later albums, Zachary Cole Smith and company roll them out wherever they seem to fit, and the result is a dense and wondrous record that will bear new fruit for dozens of listens.

There's something novelistic in Smith's songwriting. Is The Is Are, more than any album in a long time, feels like a great and immersive book, with the band further describing a new world with each track. Though it seems counter-intuitive, the fact that the vocals are so layered into the music and the lyrics are therefore often unintelligible somehow adds to this quality; Smith's lyrics are not what provide the narrative. Devin Ruben Perez's expressive bass often tells the story, setting the tone, whether it's the sprightly "Under the Sun" or the exigent desperation of "Blue Boredom" (which also features a fine Kim Gordon-like turn from Smith's girlfriend Sky Ferreira).

As on Oshin, every once in a while a lyric will jump out of the haze, as when Smith sings, "Last time I went down this street/I walked down this street/I wanted to die" on the album's title track. It's a rare instance of clarity, and, as it comes exactly halfway through the record and throws off the shroud of mystery, it's a purposeful statement on Smith's part about his well-publicized (and oft-romanticized) demons. On the very next track, the lyrics drift back into the beautiful allure of the ether. (www.diivnyc.tumblr.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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