DIIV, “Is the Is Are”

DIIV-2016-Is the Is Are_coverDIIV
Is the Is Are
CAPTURED TRACKS
8/10

It’s the primary contradiction presented on DIIV’s second album, Is the Is Are, that makes it so beguiling. How can music with such an outwardly bleak perspective have such hope buried within it? For those who were already picking up on the narrative after Oshin, the band’s debut, it will overwhelm you here. Zachary Cole Smith, the premier anti-hero of rock and roll right now, churns out riff after endless riff for over an hour on this release, sounding something like Peter Buck falling down a rabbit hole with nothing but his Rickenbacker to kill time during the descent. The momentum feels endless, but it’s steady, never veering out of control. Just a cool submersion into a world of melodically dense textures and emotions. To some, the effect could come across as a transmission from a pit of despair, but you tell me what’s more compelling: a message of optimism from a voice forced into it, or a message of pessimism from a voice that perseveres through it?

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