Is the Is Are
Last year’s recording sessions for the sophomore album by American indie rockers Diiv were plagued with controversy and excessive drug consumption. Is the Is Are was self-produced by vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter Zachary Cole Smith. His desire to create an “imperfect and flawed” record was helped by drummer Colby Hewitt’s departure (due to drug addiction), Smith’s own struggle with narcotics, and his arrest, along with girlfriend Sky Ferreira, for possession. After a spell in rehab, Smith sought solace in the creative process, admitting: “I know I have to stay alive at least until the album’s done.”
Thankfully Smith is still with us, and Diiv will perform at Kitec, in Kowloon Bay, on September 14. Not only does Is the Is Are possess life-saving qualities, it’s also a damn fine, if over-long and understandably indulgent, collection of melodic psych-dream pop tunes. The influence of Sonic Youth is undeniable and although it’s heavy and bleak at times (Dopamine concerns Smith’s struggles with heroin), the album’s brighter moments, such as the gorgeous Under the Sun and Healthy Moon, showcase the band’s true talent.