DIIV Deceiver gets 9/10

Captured Tracks/Remote Control


DIIV’s third album Deceiver is a meticulously crafted noisy gem wrapped around a ragged emotional core; singer-songwriter Zachary Cole Smith’s personal story of addiction and recovery. While last album Is This Is Are also dealt with similar themes, Smith apologised post release for the album being “dishonest”, stating that his accounts did not accurately reflect the true struggle of addiction. The album’s title, Deceiver, points directly at Smith, and he bravely responds with vocals more prominent and higher in the mix than on previous releases.

Sonically, the band deftly combines its core shoegaze sound with new musical explorations, drawing inspiration from mid 90s American alternative and indie rock underground. These new inspirations further propel the band’s swooning guitars, often in a rockier direction as noted in the singles Skin Game and Blankenship.

Between Tides is a stand out moment. Smith’s vocals are spine-tingling, his whispered delivery sitting just upon the waves of lulling guitars. The song’s increased dynamic structure and math-rock intro recall mid 90s indie rockers Polvo and Unwound and help to propel the track.

The album is bookended by two epics: Horsehead and Acheron. Opener Horsehead is a slow-build that entices the listener in with its restrained pace and Cole’s angelic vocals before exploding into a fuzzed out chaos that recalls The Smashing Pumpkins’ heaver moments. Acheron, which in Greek myth is the “river of woe” (also known to represent the border of hell in Dante’s Inferno), is more confessional in tone and musically winding, evolving through tonal and dynamic shifts before resolving to draw the album to a close.

While the record is not necessarily dark, it is heartaching. By addressing addiction and recovery so earnestly and honestly, Smith is reaching for salvation not just for himself, but for all who dive into Deceiver.


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