Published Feb 03, 2016In the lead-up to the release of DIIV's second full-length, most of the attention has been placed on either the band's substance problems (specifically Zachary Cole Smith's arrest for heroin possession) or Smith's modelling career. In giving the fans a whopping 17-track double album, however, the focus should easily be shifting to the ambitious excess of Is The Is Are.
DIIV's 2012 debut album, Oshin, presented the band's sprawling dream pop as a cohesive and condensed product. Is The Is Are, on the other hand, smashes that model to aim for something far less contained, offering the listener more of virtually every aspect of DIIV. There are more radical ideas (Smith mixed it himself without any training) and more personal revelations (the lyrics confront his not-so-private matters), but also over 20 minutes more than its predecessor.
The promise of a "more diverse sonic palette" isn't quite as apparent, however. The high profile guest spot by Smith's girlfriend Sky Ferreira on "Blue Boredom" is the most extreme divergence, sounding more like a Kim Gordon-fronted cut from Sonic Youth's EVOL than anything, but Smith keeps a lot of the already established motorik rhythms and ethereal layers of melody coming on the hooky "Bent (Roi's Song)" and "Loose Ends." That said, the maudlin piano that creeps in and out of "Healthy Moon" is an avenue that the band should explore more often.
If there was ever any question as to Smith's ability and motivation during these last few years, Is The Is Are answers them loudly, clearly and triumphantly. There will no doubt be some making the age-old "less is more" argument that comes with any double LP, but that shouldn't overshadow the fact that DIIV have returned with a powerful, immersive sophomore album. (Captured Tracks)