16 Sep 2015

DIIV / Dopamine (single review)

DIIV are an odd band; three years ago they released a really solid, if not formulaic, debut album that is still one of the best shoegaze revival albums out there. As good as it was though, the band's fanbase didn't really start to grow this side of the pond til about a year or so after, as the brilliance of their record got out and all. Now, having played about 7 shows since the record Oshin and having released zero songs since then, the band have a seemingly huge cult teenage following, and I don't really have an explanation as to why - the mythology surrounding the band just seemed to grow and grow with them doing precisely nothing, so much like the way that The Libertines weren't big enough to headline festivals, then broke up, then were, the New York band are now writing music for a really big audience.

So whilst they've not been releasing music, and only on occasion increasing their notoriety by getting in tussles and being arrested for carrying large amounts of Class A drugs, DIIV haven't really done anything to better themselves since their 2012 debut. So in a way that was just incredibly pessimistic, I just expected their forthcoming sophomore album to be a bit disappointing, because as we've just learnt with The Libs' new album, having a huge mythology around you only serves to make your inevitably average albums even more disappointing. 

However, I think with their new single; DIIV might just have put out music that justifies the hype, pretention, and fucking long wait surrounding the release of true new album Is The Is Are, which is meant to be out this autumn at some point. At first listen, you might think that with Dopamin the band have maybe shown a lack of ambition - the opening motifs sound like an Oshin offcut, but the more you get into the song and the more you listen to it, you can hear that the band have really developed their sound for it. Unlike Oshin, where the songs kinda have one mood for the whole duration, which does serve to entrance the listener,  with the middle of Dopamine, DIIV hit you with an evocative mood change, brilliantly layered harmonic guitars and a serene keyboard part. It's a really nice track, where the band have just developed what they had before and not really ventured into the unknown, which is cool to be honest, because it's a sound they've just honed so much. 

I think this track is a really solid single that gives fans of the band something that's been on the cards a long time - some new DIIV music. I think to justify all the hype around them, they'd have to - as promised in some interviews - explore a range of moods and sounds with their new album, but if nothing else this release proved that DIIV are just GOOD. Very good. And their new album might be too.

(written by calum cashin)