Thursday, 28 June 2012

DIIV - Oshin

Originally the solo project of Beach Fossils live member Zachary Cole Smith, DIIV (pronounced Dive) have spilled out of the bedroom to release their debut album ‘Oshin’ (pronounced Ocean, probably) on hip Brooklyn label Captured Tracks (Dum Dum Girls, Thieves Like Us)

Setting out their stall early on ‘Oshin’ opens with an instrumental entitled ‘Druun’ (pronounced…oh I give up,) which uses low slung bass, repetitive piano and a faintly oriental tremolo picked riff to conjure up something akin to Surfer Blood’s day at the beach surf-pop. Second track ‘Past Lives’ is a catchy Maccabees-esque slice of indie-pop for the first minute before abandoning a second verse in favour of another instrumental segment. In fact, a large proportion of ‘Oshin’ is given over to lengthy vocal-free sections.

Unfortunately, after 4 or 5 tracks of this it begins to seem as if DIIV are rather short on things to say. The mood is perky and upbeat and the interwoven, jangly guitars and bass are solid but even the dramatic camp of The Drums is more emotionally engaging and when Cole-Smith does open his mouth it tends to be to deliver spacey ‘Whoa-ohs’ rather than crucial insights into the human condition.

Fortunately the second half offers a darker prospect. The quiet-loud dynamics, chugging bass and reverb-y guitars on ‘Earthboy’ sound like Keane being cut loose on a raft far out at sea, whilst ‘Sometime’ packs a catchy guitar hook and some nice instrumental interplay. There still aren’t many melodies that really stick in your head, but the change in mood makes it a more intriguing prospect. Ironically it’s penultimate track ‘Doused’ that offers a tantalising prospect of what might have been: jagged interwoven guitars, a raw edge that seems to be absent elsewhere and an actual chorus, it’s everything this album could have been and more.

Overall ‘Oshin’ is a perfectly pleasant record, impressively performed and impeccably produced but this just isn’t the kind of music you listen to for the sterling musicianship, it’s something that should go straight to your feet. As a modern take on the 60’s surf-rock of groups like The Surfaris or the Ventures it’s a satisfying record to put on for a spin but unlike the summery juvenilia of Surfer Blood or Smith Westerns it’s not one that really calls you back once the last echoing notes of ‘Home’ fade.


Max Sefton

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