August 7, 2012


You Need to Know: NYC Dream Pop Quartet DIIV

Sandy Kim
Sandy Kim

Remember the Cotton theme song: "The touch! The feel! Of Cotton!"?Of course you do. Now get this: The guy that wrote it has a son, Zachary Cole Smith, who knows his way around a tune, too, albeit a far looser, dreamier, more reverb-drenched one. As the leader of DIIV, a Brooklyn-based band specializing in shoegaze-y guitar leads and floating-into-the-ether vocals, Smith could be penning his own jingle advertising, say, waving your hand in the wind out of a car window, diving into a clear lake or laying on your back and watching the clouds float by. This is summer music at its most sentimental.

DIIV's sound is similar to fellow Brooklynites Real Estate and Beach Fossils, who Smith previously toured with. He dipped out of BF to start his solo project in 2011, recording alone in his bedroom, and soon formed a band with a group of pals equally versed in indie rock, including former Smith Westerns drummer Colby Hewitt. Smith originally called the project Dive, after the Nirvana song and the band members' connection to water: "Everybody in the band is a water sign, that's kind of why the name Dive really spoke to us all," he told Pitchfork earlier this year.

They played their first gig last July and quickly inked to Captured Tracks, which released a series of singles. Earlier this year they changed their name to DIIV (reportedly out of respect for the Belgian industrial group Dive), and prepped their recently released debut full-length Oshin. Simply put: It's rad and in constant play on my Spotify. And it's not just a redo of the jangly surf-pop sounds of their aforementioned peers, as their first few singles suggested (and that would've been just fine with me, too). There are hints of darker, Krautrock influences, bright African-style sounds (think Malian guitarists like Baba Salah or Amadou of Amadou & Mariam) and even some post-punk rhythms. And it all flows together effortlessly; an album-length roman candle of twinkling guitars and subtle textures.

But, still, it's all about those guitars and the whispered vocals that ride them like a secret between lovers. Perhaps lovers laying on their backs in the grass, on a Polaroid summer day, watching the clouds.