Review Summary: Please God, no more flubbed portmanteaus.
I’m a little pissed at DIIV. Like, DIIV? Oshin? Druun? Give me some more credit, dudes. I would’ve used a shit
ton of water imagery in this review without you spoon-feeding me it. Now what am I gonna write? Oshin
sounds like it’s coming from underwater? It’s a dream-pop/post-punk hybrid drenched in reverb, drowning guitar lines and washing the vocals away? The hooks come in waves, the choruses swell, all while a solid rhythm section keeps the whole thing afloat? Okay, I’m having fun, but it feels like I’m regurgitating a press kit here, describing your sound with the same clichés used to talk about every shoegaze album ever, when Oshin
is so much more than an excuse to casually toss “awash” into a paragraph.
Or maybe it isn’t? Who knows. Let’s face it: the fact that DIIV is a guy in Beach Fossils doing the whole reverb/ocean thing while aggressively bastardizing nautical terminology makes the project sound like another one of the billion beach-fetishizing Brooklyn bands with scissor-cut shorts and ironic hats filtering jangly summertime pop through Instagram. Maybe that’s all they’ll be, big-picture-wise, but blame that on the moment and not the band. I was ready to brush Oshin
aside and write a big ol’ fart of a review on originality and oversaturation and how Pitchfork has begun to grasp at any bullshit
that fits the indie-culture hegemony they must perpetuate to survive, but stunned was I to discover a genuinely thrilling guitar record.
And on that record: all of the songs on Oshin
are good. A lot of them are really good. So good are these songs that you don’t realize they’re all sort of the same until you’ve gone through, like, seven of them, and even then it’s difficult to fault DIIV for sticking to one sound since they do it so well. Oshin
is frontloaded; the first half is the dreamier one, all major-chord anthems and the site of the aforementioned hook-waves (“Human’s” chorus in particular calls up this image). Each of the first five tracks sticks out, which is impressive considering DIIV’s sound is predicated on making things indistinct. The second half has a similar air but it tints things slightly darker; “(Druun, Pt. II)” (another reason I’m pissed at DIIV: “flubbed portmanteaus”) marks the first time the record gets aggressive, rocking the jun-jun-junna-jun
bassline like Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened.” After that, the record hits a lull, repeating itself until “Doused” and “Home,” the album’s hardest and easiest tracks, provide the necessary variation to pull you back in.
And just like that, it’s over, as humbly as it began, with a little bit of flair and a pleasant sonic palette. Oshin
isn’t the kind of record that stuns or ignites or does anything “important” records do. It isn’t particularly ambitious. But it is beautiful, and, occasionally, it touches. It is definitely of the current moment in that it has all the signifiers of an album held together with Nostalgia Spackle (™), but its impeccable songwriting is making me think more and more that this is a bit timeless, a future generation’s lost gem, a handy rec for a friend looking to get into more early 2010s dream-pop. And shit
, if nostalgia is everything, why not get nostalgic for right now?