DIIV: Is The Is Are Review

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By Cheyenne Heaslet
Music Reviewer

Album: Is The Is Are
Label: Captured Tracks
Release Date: February 5, 2016

Brooklyn shoegaze hopefuls DIIV have returned with their sophomore effort in the form of a double-LP titled Is The Is Are. In the years since DIIV’s 2012 debut, Oshinn, frontman Zachary Cole Smith has had issues dealing with the acclaim his music has brought him; cancelled tours, a failed attempt to follow up the record and his high profile run-in with the law were shamed by the public. After nearly four problematic years in between releases, it’s entirely reasonable to expect Smith to have seventeen songs ready to go and for the most part, Is The Is Are is a success. DIIV’s style remains where they stood out to begin with, drifting in shoegaze and dream pop but the execution is a step in the right direction.

Is The Is Are starts off a bit misleading but also inviting. The pop sensibilities of the opener “Out of Mind” and the guitar hook of obvious single “Under the Sun” give the false impressions of another Wild Nothing knock off. Quickly though, after the first few songs, the tone changes to a darker, more melancholic feeling that gives weight to Smith’s slack vocal delivery. Is The Is Are is also much more atmospheric than Oshinn, with songs such as “Blue Boredom” and “Yr Not Far” showcasing the band’s ability for creating textured, interesting songs that feel organic and fully realized for what they are.

The lyrical content behind Is The Is Are is its most compelling feature. It follows an autobiographical-type narrative of addiction and its toll. Zachary Cole Smith details the struggle with sobriety in “Bent”, singing “Fought my mind to keep my life, but my body’s putting up a tougher fight”. Smith goes on to write about recovery and finding help in “Take Yr Time”, the guilt of temptation with “Incarnate Devil”, and vivid imagery with the balancing act of not overdosing on “Dust”.

DIIV’s second album, while not blazing any new trails musically, is a step forward in the best way. The songs on Is The Is Are are dream-like in their flow while making every second count. Zachary Cole Smith has made a personal, engaging effort in the wake of his struggles. Let’s just hope that the next one comes quicker and with less public scrutiny in between.

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By Allison Belcher Music Reviewer Artist: Dr. Dog Album: The Psychedelic Swamp Release date: February 5, 2016 Record Label: ANTI-records Website: After fifteen years, nine albums and a whole lot of time and hard work, Dr. Dog has given his fans a little something different. The Psychedelic Swamp is an album that revisits the band’s unreleased debut fifteen years later. Dr. Dog has remained consistent (almost stagnant) in his sound […]

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