The subtropical Xanax fling that would become 2015 marked the start of a new era for music, in which not really caring about anything finally attained widespread appeal. This is interesting, as Bowie would still give pose and meaning to music until January 2016. Prince still had a year to go. And yet, it was as if all joie de vivre had been stripped from life, replaced instead by tie-dye t-shirts and circular sunglasses. “Right, you’ve had your turn,” it seemed to say. Post-adolescent angst delivered its swansong at Reading Festival with The Libertines and Metallica, before tapping out and allowing Mumford and Sons and Alt-J to fight out the Battle of the Twats.
Alt-J’s victory later made way for bands like DIIV. The American rockers tapped into the same vein as Brummy lads JAWS had a year before, marinating a copy of Unknown Pleasures in glitter and overlaying faded vocals. It was sort of Sonic Youth does My Bloody Valentine, or Slowdive does The Beach Boys. Very loose, very cool – a great time to exist if you didn’t want to think too much.
But then someone did think, and they realised DIIV had been thinking too. 2015’s Is The Is Are was an album about addiction and recovery, the “cycle of insanity” waiting for the withdrawals to subside. Pretty intense for sandal music.
DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith has been open about his ongoing battle with addiction, and aims to produce an album this time around that can take an honest, introspective look at the aftermath of addiction. Album teaser ‘Skin Game’ takes a confident step towards improvement after a shaky opening. Soft, mature, the track runs parallel to Wolf Alice’s rise from sulky teenagers to smart, cool, sulky adults. Two and a half minutes in, the song snarls, wakes up a bit, puts on its adult clothes and goes outside. Lyrics come out a little clearer, as though there to be listened to.
Baby steps, maybe, but full of promise.
DIIV’s upcoming album Deceiver will be realised on October 4 2019.
Words by James Reynolds