DIIV - Oshin

by Steve Rhodes Rating:9.5 Release Date:2012-07-16

Initially, the solo project of Beach Fossils' guitarist Zachary Cole Smith, Diiv is now a full live band, forging a similar but more direct and muscular furrow. They're are an exciting prospect; barely a year old, and have produced one of the strongest and consistent debut albums in years.

Instrumental opener '(Druun)' launches straight into Psychocandy-era Jesus & Mary Chain snare drums and is full of wandering bass and chiming, melodious guitars, with a beautiful riff added part-way through. It's a song you want to stay round longer than its brief two minutes. 'Past Lives' ups the pace, with fuller production and an echoed vocal in the realms of Animal Collective or Yeasayer, but with a song that is far more direct and driving, hinting at psychedelia rather than borrowing it wholesale. The bass is used as a co-lead, not just a backing instrument and the Bodines-esque guitars are swirling and uplifting, unlocking positive emotions, like The Field Mice without the twee connotations. The song is glorious and an excellent representation of Diiv's sound.

Like a number of artists today, there are clear nods to the 80s in a number of songs, but also to shoegaze, post-rock and Krautrock. 'Wait' uses intelligent guitars, keys and melodies, like M83 listening to The Dream Academy. 'Sometime' appears to resemble a beefier A Flock of Seagulls, dragged kicking and screaming into this century.

The frenetic 'Doused' bounds along, with nods to The Cure and The Chameleons, emerging as a relation to Saloon's 'Across the Great Divide', while maintaining its own identity. 'Air Conditioning', meanwhile, adds electronics and a pulsing repetitive bassline, while guitars are allowed to effortlessly chime over the top. It's a woozy song, perhaps a natural counterpart to Spirea X's 'Chlorine Dream'.

A key feature of the album is how upbeat it is, without being smug or self-knowing. 'Human' again has a deliriously cheery guitar-line with vocals taking more of a back-seat, but supplementing the song rather than being buried in the mix. 'How Long Have You Known' is a cheerier cousin to the grumpier Interpol, with joyous melodies and simple, repetitive lyrics: "How long have you known? How long has it shown? Forever?". Even where the album touches on melancholy, such as on 'Earthboy', with its nods to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and sped-up Explosions in the Sky guitars, it does so in such a beautiful and yearning way.

After speeding through 12 tracks, the drum-less 'Home' is a simple, euphoric song which neatly closes the album. Like Sigur Ros in the Savannah in its use of guitar and piano, it is a nice counterpoint to the adrenaline-fuelled pace of the rest of Oshin.

It is great to hear such a cheerful, happy record in these hard times. With Oshin, Diiv have delivered on their early promise and produced an album which is an excellent antidote and a perfect prescription. Listen to at least twice daily even after symptoms clear.

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