Since forming in 2011, the Brooklyn-based shoegaze psych-rock band DIIV (pronounced “Dive”) have steadily gained a reputation for solid records and heavy live shows. After releasing their debut, Oshin, the band had a turbulent time with band members coming and going, which led to a four-year gap before their next release. Reportedly, frontman Zachary Cole Smith had over 150 songs written before recording sophomore record Is the Is Are, which isn’t hard to believe as the album ended up with a total of seventeen tracks that exceeded the three-minute mark with few exceptions. Deceiver, however, has a track list of ten songs, most hovering around the four-minute mark. While Is the Is Are was a critically praised album, there is something a whole lot more digestible coming in at about a forty-five-minute album.
On Deceiver, DIIV fully embraces elements of classic shoegaze with an ethereal mixture of semi-obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and overwhelming volume with a healthy dose of hard rock. The album opens with “Horsehead” which starts with a few seconds of a lone electric guitar strumming before the drums starts beating and it’s not long before a wall of distortion appears. “Skin Game” was the first single to be released for the album and its catchy riffs and chorus make it an obvious choice. Having been arrested in 2013 for possession of heroin and subsequently completing a rehab program, Smith seems to be tackling some of his inner demons. This is especially true on a song like “Skin Game”, where he sings, “I can see you’ve had some struggles lately / Hey man, I’ve had mine too / They gave us wings to fly / But then they took away the sky.” “Blankenship” brings in a post-punk feel with repetitive rhythm and crunchy guitar riffs that invite the listener to nod their heads while imagining whether a mosh pit might open up during a live performance. The last track, “Acheron”, closes the album perfectly with its constantly changing dynamics, switching from breathy lyrics to wall of sound jams.
Deceiver packs a much heavier punch than previous releases. Where Is the Is Are had an airier, spacey feeling throughout, Deceiver throws in heavy riffs and grungier distortion. Overall, Deceiver is an album that delivers on both the musical and lyrical sides.