Take away the drama and the personalities and DIIV are a good band. The determination of frontman Zachary Cole Smith to put out a solid album despite all of the chaos surrounding the band is admirable. ‘Dopamine’, the latest single from Is This Is Are is exactly what you’d expect from DIIV: effects-heavy dream-rock/pop with fuzzy vocals reminiscent of Slowdive and instrumentals from the Thames Valley shoegaze scene back in the 90s too. The lyrics are still focussed on drugs, with reference to ‘mix the white and brown’ and ‘I got so high’, but the lyrics were never a high point for the band. If anything. Zachary Cole Smith’s airy vocal is enough to propel the track, even if he was just mumbling incoherently.
The bridge solo alone makes the track – a clatter of guitars that finally makes sense when it breaks above the constant flurry of effects. It clears the air for a while, but doesn’t stay long enough for the band to go back to the same patterns they were repeating for the past three minutes. It’s essentially DIIV doing what they do – druggy dream-pop which doesn’t require much more than a catchy riff and a few hundred pedals. They may be the epitome of the dull shoegaze revival, they may be a band controversial and radio-ready enough to at least give the alternative rock charts a shot at.