I look back at last year’s slept-on Diiv album and “Horsehead,” one of the best shoegaze tracks in recently history.
In the early-to-mid '10s, you couldn't visit a music blog without reading about DIIV. The band drew from counteless '90s indie and alternative rock influences, hailed from Brooklyn, and generally checked all the boxes that I unabashedly enjoy when it comes to new(ish) guitar-based bands.
Yet for the simple reason of being everywhere and my then-pretentious habit of then trying to follow avant-garde artists, I never got into DIIV around the peak of the press/blog hype cycle. They're not a bad band, and their first two albums are pretty great, after hearing them in recent years for the first time. I simply divorced myself from them and other "indie popular" bands at the time.
This ultimately paid off when I heard the band's 2019 release, Deceiver, with a fresh, relatively untainted pair of ears. Compared to previous releases, Deceiver relies more on distortion and falls more in line with the shoegaze albums I grew up adoring. It's safe to say that the album belongs in the American shoegaze canon, alongside Drop Nineteens' Delaware and Medicine's Shot Forth Self Living. It's one of the best from last year — or in recent years — though received comparitively little mention in music press compared to past albums. (The reason for this is beyond me, as it's truly a spectacular record.)
There are plenty of amazing tracks on Deceiver, but opener "Horsehead" is still playing around in my head eight months after release. It sets the tone for the rest of the record — heavy guitars with one taking a lead later in the song, lyrics reflecting Zachary Cole Smith's inner turmoil and past traumas, and a beautiful chorus that every Music Supervisor should be using to soundtrack a bleak scene on screen. It's a song that, to be perfectly honest, I wish I wrote, and one I'll be spinning for decades to come.
Deceiver by DIIV is out now on Captured Tracks. Please consider supporting the artist directly by purchasing their album.