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DIIV: Is the Is Are [Slipcase] *

Track List

>Out of Mind
>Under the Sun
>Bent (Roi's Song)
>Blue Boredom (Sky's Song) - (featuring Sky Ferreira)
>Yr Not Far
>Take Your Time
>Is the is Are
>Mire (Grant's Song)
>Incarnate Devil
>Healthy Moon
>Loose Ends
>Waste of Breath

Album Reviews:

Spin - "Smith's vocals are finally allowed to peek over the fuzzy fractal spiderwebs of his and fellow guitarist Andrew Bailey's lead work. And the void lurking behind these songs only seems more threatening now that its craggy edges are more clearly delineated."

NME (Magazine) - "[T]hese are some of the most powerful, personal and persuasive rock songs you'll hear this year."

NME (Magazine) - "[T]hese are some of the most powerful, personal and persuasive rock songs you'll hear this year."

Paste (magazine) - "The record as a whole is a listen that's both inviting and challenging, and it seems like it's one that'll keep returning rewards for a long time."

Clash (magazine) - "With soundscapes that are as expansive as they are immersive, DIIV brandish an immediately infectious brand of melodic dream pop, underpinned by pounding drums and the band's signature guitar attack."

Album Notes

Audio Mixers: Daniel Schlett; Kurt Feldman.

Recording information: Gary's electric; Kurt's House; Strange Weather Studios; The Bunker Studios.

Photographer: Hidemasa Miyake.

Considering the troubles DIIV went through after the release of their debut album Oshin -- chief among them Zachary Cole Smith's 2013 arrest for drug possession -- it's somewhat miraculous that they made another album, much less one as consistently good as Is the Is Are. Over the course of 17 songs (just a handful of the over 150 demos Smith wrote), DIIV finds salvation through ambition, with Smith using his mistakes as a crucible for his art. While artists shouldn't have to suffer for their work, there is something alchemical about turning pain into beauty; Is the Is Are has plenty of both. Cliched as it may sound, hardship seems to have given DIIV's prettiness more depth. "Out of Mind" opens the album with a glassy, fragile insistence reminiscent of Deerhunter, another band skilled in transforming ugly feelings and situations into beautiful songs. Elsewhere, DIIV blends grunge's cathartic power with shoegaze's impressionistic, transporting qualities, surrounding listeners with Smith's angst rather than forcing it on them: The echo and reverb on "Take Your Time" suggest lingering feelings of loss and regret that grow ominous on "Yr Not Far." Even when Smith tips his hand more, murmuring "I left you with a pretty big mess" on "Bent (Roi's Song)" or "You made a believer out of me" on "Mire (Grant's Song)," he still leaves space for listeners to impart their own emotions on these songs. Indeed, several of Is the Is Are's most dynamic moments come at the hands of others. Sky Ferreira injects "Blue Boredom" with some of Kim Gordon's aloof danger, while "Dust"'s opening lyric ("the only way to be quiet is to be quick") quotes poet Frank O'Hara; another poet, Frederick Deming, crafted the album's syntax-defying title, which sums up its searching feel and shifting states of being within these songs perfectly. This indefinite quality makes Is the Is Are more interesting than a lot of more obvious soul-bearing, particularly on songs like the chiming "Healthy Moon," which suggests that catharsis doesn't have to be grim. Even without DIIV's backstory, it's easy to hear the band's growth since the Oshin days. "Under the Sun" boasts a stronger spine than many of their songs, as well as a jaunty, angular riff that rivals Echo & the Bunnymen's finest. The title track, which was inspired by Neu!'s "Hallogallo," incorporates DIIV's fondness for Krautrock more organically and excitingly than before, evoking the sustained tension of a dream about falling. Meanwhile, on "Loose Ends," they pay homage to generations of brilliant guitar bands while claiming their own place in that legacy. Here and throughout Is the Is Are, DIIV reveal themselves as a more thoughtful, more rewarding band than could have been expected from their debut. ~ Heather Phares


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