Summary

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, there was a high tide of bittersweet, beach-inspired indie pop bands such as the Drums, Surfer Blood, and Beach Fossils, whose Zachary Cole Smith helmed the likeminded Diiv (originally known as Dive, but Cole changed the project's spelling after learning of the Belgian band of the same name). Like Beach Fossils, Diiv's debut album Oshin was released by Captured Tracks and bears all the hallmarks of that label's quintessential sound: jangly guitars, winsome vocals, cavernous reverb, and an overall murky, underwater production aesthetic. However, Cole differentiates Diiv from the rest of the beach-pop pack with a darker, more eclectic feel that incorporates surf and Krautrock on the undulating epic "Air Conditioning," and the fittingly named, multi-part instrumental "(Druun)," which unites Oshin with a hazy glow. While the change between songs like these and Diiv's previously released pop confections like "Human" and "How Long Have You Known?" is somewhat jarring at first, it gives the band more options, which they put to good use on "Oshin (Subsumed)"'s dark surf balladry and "Doused"'s angular attack, which helps give Diiv's sound some urgency without losing their dreamy undercurrents. Oshin's more experimental tracks feel especially necessary considering that many of the jangly pop songs that weren't released as singles don't have as much impact as proven material like "Sometime"; while tracks such as "Wait" and "Earthboy" are never less than breezily pretty, they tend to wash over listeners' ears all too easily. Even so, Oshin is a pleasant listen, especially for anyone partial to Beach Fossils or the Captured Tracks sound in general. ~ Heather Phares