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DIIV - Deceiver (Album Review)

Tuesday, 08 October 2019 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Coley Brown

After the brilliant dream-pop of 2016’s ‘Is The Is Are’, DIIV’s third album ‘Deceiver’ is anything but optimistically uplifting. They've had a tumultuous few years and the results are more visible—where ‘Is The Is Are’ seemed to almost dismissively sweep their problems under the rug with a shrug, here Zachary Cole Smith puts it all on the line.

Touring with Deafheaven seems to have given the Brooklyn outfit’s music a harder edge than before, as well as a thicker layer of fuzz, which is evident from the off as Horsehead and Like Before You Were Born both hit on something closer to grunge than dream-pop.

Smith has previously stated that Kurt Cobain was a role model so perhaps this isn’t a huge surprise, and both Lorelei and Taker also feel like slowly wading through a quagmire. They drag us into Smith’s troubles, with a looming sense of depression almost engulfing the listener.

While Smith has gone on record to say that ‘Is The Is Are’ was a case of him not truly facing up to his heroin addiction, among other things, ‘Deceiver’ doesn’t really feel like someone emerging from a drugs hell either. It’s more like we’re in the eye of the storm itself.

There are a few sprightly moments, despite the lyrics telling us otherwise. The Spark lifts the shroud of darkness with a perky guitar hook, emerging from the gloom majestically in a way that the Jesus and Mary Chain were once able to do so at will. Skin Game is another light shining through a clouded mind. “Fighting to get through the door, but I can’t live like this anymore,” Smith admits.

Blankenship and closer Acheron are probably the biggest highlights here, though. The former deploys a motorik beat that feels positively rapid after the dour route to this point, while the latter is melodically more transparent throughout its epic seven minutes.

‘Deceiver’ is considerably different. The critical acclaim that greeted DIIV’s last album was rightly glowing but like many sugar coated substances, there was something troublesome underneath. Now it’s become more exposed, leaving those hopeful, perhaps even expectant, of more of the same likely perplexed and despondent. That said, as a standalone album it demands attention.

DIIV Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu February 20 2020 - BRISTOL SWX 
Fri February 21 2020 - LEEDS Leeds University Stylus
Sat February 22 2020 - LIVERPOOL Invisible Wind Factory
Sun February 23 2020 - GLASGOW QMU
Mon February 24 2020 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Riverside
Wed February 26 2020 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 2
Thu February 27 2020 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town
Fri February 28 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Crossing
Sat February 29 2020 - BRIGHTON Chalk

Click here to compare & buy DIIV Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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