DIIV’s Sludgy New Single Is Their Most Troubled Song Yet – Track Review

Back in June, DIIV played a secret show in a railway arch in east London. The place stank and the floor was dusty, even the air felt dirty. They soundchecked with a song that suited the venue perfectly, a then-unknown dirge of feedback, marching drums, cymbal crashes, bass and piercing guitar. Their heads bobbed to its crawling rhythm and singer Zachary Cole Smith sang into a mic covered with a beanie hat, put there to stop him getting electrocuted by dodgy equipment. That track, it turns out, was ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’, which the New Yorkers premiered on Mexican radio station Ibero 90.9FM on Saturday (November 21).

Following ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Bent (Roi’s Song)’, this is the third track taken from the quintet’s upcoming second album ‘Is The Is Are’. While those first two singles were noticeably grubbier than 2012 debut ‘Oshin’, their nimble guitar interplay meant they were instantly recognisable as DIIV songs. ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’ is different. It’s slow and sludgy, with Smith’s usual crisp guitar notes constantly harrassed by feedback and wailing noise. The singer has told NME that Sonic Youth’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ was a huge influence on the new record, and that’s certainly obvious here. There’s just enough sweetness to ensure it isn’t overwhelming, but this is pretty nightmarish for an indie-pop song. Smith’s repeated lyrics “I was blind and now I see/ You made a believer out of me/ I was high/ Now I feel low” are easily decipherable, making inferences about his well-publicised problems with drugs inevitable. They’re also very similar to Primal Scream’s ‘Movin’ On Up’.

More interesting than that though, is the fact this unsettling song is dedicated to a friend, most likely the filmmaker Grant Singer, who is also close with Smith’s girlfriend Sky Ferreira. In a recent blog post, Smith remembers his friend’s reaction to the band playing it for the first time: “He was sitting right there, and his face, his reaction… I’ll never forget that moment”. It’s a snapshot of how important this next album is for DIIV, and shows more to this band than reverb and light-fingered riffing.