DIIV released the follow-up to 2012’s excellent Oshin today, Is the Is Are, a spanning, double album that fleshes out the sound they developed on Oshin. Since then, Zachary Cole Smith started dating Sky Ferreira, and the two of them were arrested on drug charges in 2013, Smith being found in possession of “42 decks” of heroin. Ferreira appears on “Blue Boredom” on Is the Is Are, a drug-addled track, but then again, isn’t that what every DIIV song sounds like really (and Ferreira herself)? Drugged-out music has the ability to be very relaxing sometimes, as is the case with Is the Is Are, a shoegazy, blissed-out kind of indie rock in the vein of Mac DeMarco and Real Estate. And there are some great tracks here. The pre-album singles included “Under the Sun,” “Mire (Grant’s Song),” “Bent (Roi’s Song),” and “Dopamine,” but what about the middle-of-album tracks “Yr Not Far” and “Take Your Time,” which come right before title track “Is the Is Are”? The whole album is sonically enveloping, made up of lush guitar sounds and affected vocals, and DIIVes into every corner of the soaring sound they’ve carved out for themselves.
The lyrics, however, can be sparse. On “Mire,” Smith sings, “I was blind and now I see / You made a believer out of me” over and over again as the song’s guitar melody becomes more and more unhinged, echoing the lyrics in the following line, “I was so high / now I feel low, and the way the track seems to deconstruct itself in its final minutes, almost droning itself out until the guitar turns into primal warblings and the vocals become so washed out that we’re not even sure if its Smith singing anymore; it could be Ferreira, the other half of his drugged-out trips and the only person who can bring him back down to earth. It’s an impression we’re left with on much of the album, the feeling that we’re sort of in limbo, confused and high and not really sure how to get where we’re going.