Review: DIIV – Oshin
Published on July 24th, 2012 | Theo Gorst
DIIV’s video for lead single “How Long Have You Known” (below) can be seen as metaphorically applicable to the record it comes from. Indeed in the video, band leader (and sometime Beach Fossil) Zachary Cole Smith blends seemingly random objects into a palatable pill, and on Oshin similar alchemy is displayed. Over the course of the LP the Broklyn-ites manage to successfully assimilate disparate influences – namely Krautrock, Disintegration-era Cure and Seattle grunge – into something utterly glorious.
Despite displaying the ethereal wistfulness one expects from a high quality dream-pop album, Oshin also serves as an exciting listen due to its unexpected urgency. Nowhere is this clearer than on the album’s opener, “Druun”: forgoing the extended introduction of a record like Disintegration, the four-piece opt to dive straight in. Sounding like the crash of a wave, the resounding smack of a bass drum welcomes the listener into DIIV’s utterly immersive, aquatically themed debut LP.
To say the components of a DIIV track are predictable isn’t a slight on Smith’s ambitions as a songwriter but a credit to the way in which these thirteen tracks unite to perfectly spell out a singular vision. From the same pallet, Smith manages to produce a myriad of colours. The track listing allows for lighter moments to compliment darker moments – and vice versa – and such is the way in which the record is compiled, no emotion feels overbearing.
The record sounds like a beautiful storm, the dark undercurrents of murky bass and propellant drumming juxtaposed by shades of stunning brightness through floral guitar lines that bloom before being swept away by waves of the rhythm sections. Whilst the aforementioned formula provides a sturdy basis for the songs, it’s the splashes of colour that characterise the tracks and show seriously intelligent songwritting; be it the Television-esque climaxing guitar line in “Human”, the wall of distortion at “Wait”’s conclusion or the urgent punk bassline on “Doused”.
Like all great dream-pop LP’s, Oshin works on two levels: it can wash over the listener as a record of beautiful melancholy soundscapes, but if you listen closely then, like the sea itself, it will suck you in with its undercurrents of alluring melodies.
“Home” acts as a stunningly resigned and sad conclusion to one of 2012’s strongest albums thus far. Smith’s vocals – often used as much to add a further texture as for conveying lyrics – repeat ‘you’ll never have a home’, a rarely personal line amongst a record that favours instrumentation over lyrics. Smith may not have a consistent home himself, but within Oshin he displays a warmth that for many will act as a home over the resulting months.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!