Two years after embarking on a program of recovery, Smith has emerged with a clear head and renewed focus. For the first time, DIIV lived with songs on the road. During a 2018 tour with Deafheaven, they performed eight new compositions as the bulk of the set. The tunes progressed as the players did. By the time DIIV entered 64 Sound to record with producer Sonny Diperri, the band felt a certain confidence.
It’s evident on first single “Skin Game,” which gallops forth on a clean guitar riff before unfolding into a hypnotic hook offset by an off-kilter rhythm and hummable solo. “Being a recovering addict myself,” he says, “there are a lot of questions like, ‘Who are we? What is this disease?’ ‘Skin Game’ looks at where the pain comes from – the personal, physical, emotional, and broader political experiences feeding into the cycle of addiction for millions of us.”
A trudging groove and wailing guitar punctuate a lulling apology on the magnetically melancholic “Taker.” For Smith, it’s “about taking responsibility for your lies, their consequences, and the entire experience.” Meanwhile, the ominous bass line and crawling beat of “Blankenship” devolve into schizophrenic string bends with the vitriolic lyrics. The seven-minute “Acheron” offers a dynamic denouement, flowing through a hulking beat guided under gusts of lyrical fretwork and a distorted heavy apotheosis.
2. Like Before You Were Born
3. Skin Game
6. For the Guilty
8. The Spark