Sister Daydream Nation Washing Machine Dirty Murray Street Bad Moon Rising Silver Session (For Jason Knuth) Rather Ripped EVOL Sonic Nurse SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century Sonic Youth The Eternal Splitting the Atom Goo SYR7: J'Accuse Ted Hughes Experimental Jet Set SYR1: Anagrama Confusion Is Sex Ciccone Youth SYR9: Simon Werner a Disparu A Thousand Leaves SYR3: Invito al ĉielo Smart Bar Chicago 1985 SYR8: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth Made in USA NYC Ghosts & Flowers SYR2: Slaapkamers met slagroom Hold That Tiger SYR5
Listening in short bursts like the "Sometime" 7" from late last year I was optimistic for this release: armed with a memorable hook and, by their standards, pronounced vocals the track stood out among it's dreamy counterparts in the blogosphere. "Sometime" remains one of Oshin's most fruitful tracks but at full length DIIV seem to be treading water, and just. Aesthetically Oshin is sound, with production catered to creating the somber mood of their seaside dream, reverb caked as substitute wind. With strong emphasis on instrumental fluidity, however, Oshin frequently sacrifices substance for rather hollow atmosphere, with guitars chimed safe to avoid disrupting, well, anything.
As a result even on casual listen their attempted flow seems to drag from interlude to interlude without aim, the near-inaudible vocals playing little significance. It's pretty draining stuff from a band so obsessed with the ocean, competent but calculated. No matter how far you'll never struggle to see the waves before their limp crash, ad infinitum. Only on the energetic "Doused" do we hear DIIV pick up the pace, at which point in the album it's momentum fails too create any opportunity for prolonged excitement, instead cutting out to the melancholic closer, "Home".
Some high points like the catchy "How Long Have You Known?" and motorik drums of "(Druun Pt. II)" do sit well but, unfortunately, at close inspection even those get repetitive in parts. In all honesty... this isn't much else but pleasant. This is a record that doesn't ask for your attention as much as it does your passive company. Hype seems misplaced, and I can't help but get the impression that the reverb slathered upon everything is used less for effect than it is a smokescreen to the fact that they have nothing to say, at all.
Yet, for the most part DIIV seem contented with this. Drawing influence from The Cure's mid-80's forays into new wave with a tight rhythmic sensibility reminiscent of Joy Division on “Wait” the band showcase their more refined attributes. With a distorted guitar haze building as the song nears it's end Smith’s voice is returned to reverb-soaked comfort, accompanied with the buzz of early Jesus and Mary Chain.
Where Oshin suffers most though is it's running time. DIIV might have been more successful had they provided their lush and fluid soundscapes in slightly reduced form, as they often meander past their cue to leave. It's not hard to imagine a far more palatable result had they trimmed 10 minutes or so, leaving a more compact and immediate portrait of their style.
Their tendency to value music over singing, of course, would not be an issue had they been at all tasteful in mixing the words that often float beneath the surface. With the 95% buried vocals on Earthboy I can't begin to understand what logic took place, especially irritating on a track with such melodic potential, defeated by it's own production methods. Pretty but irritating sums up the record to me; still, for it's more hypnotic moments I hold out hope that it's a grower.
With Davy Jones of The Monkees having just passed I was reminded of one of my favourite cover versions ever, and so in the spirit of Thursday night boredom here's the re-interpretations that tickle my ear drums the most - some more obvious than others: