Since their excellent 2013 debut Oishin, DIIV have seemed to be constantly on the verge of collapse, their story disintegrating into a sleazy, drug-fuelled saga straight out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Thankfully they appear to have come through the whole sorry tale alive, if not unscathed, and this second album finds them on fine if somewhat gloomy and self-indulgent form.
Is The Is Are springs out of the traps with the Cure-ishly wonderful ‘Out of Mind’, and sustains its opening brilliance over an opening four-track salvo which, with the exception of that Suede album, is unlikely to be topped all year. Combining the jangling, shimmering dream-pop perfected on Oishin with a darker, almost goth-tinged edge (or in the case of the wonderful Dopamine, early REM), it’s an utterly breathless start to the album, but sadly it’s one they are unable to sustain.
In short, 17 tracks of this stuff is simply too much. There’s a 10-track AOTY contender lurking in here somewhere, particularly in the Neu-like title track, the ferocious ‘Dusk’, and the heroically wasted ‘Blue Boredom’. But there are far too many duplicates here, pale photocopies of songs that are good but don’t need rehashing.
So we are left with an album which, with a bit of judicious pruning, could be a fantastic distillation of all that is great about DIIV but which, as it stands, is simply too much of a good thing.
Is The Is Are is released on 5th February 2019 via Captured Tracks.