What’s often forgotten in the inevitable march of progress is that today’s good ideas don’t have to go bad. Once a trend’s heat passes, its better innovations might settle into a new variety of classic cool. In Brooklyn’s DIIV, the music of the post-punk and shoegaze eras abandons the lens of nostalgia for the thrill of discovery. The brainchild of sometime-Beach Fossils guitarist Z. Cole Smith, DIIV treats the murky indie ’80s as the riptide that pulls the quartet deep into unexpected waters.
Oshin emphasizes a charmingly low-budget kind of grandeur, like Ride’s Nowhere reconstructed via laptop. That album is one of DIIV’s biggest touchstones, though repeated listens reveal an impressive range of influences. Its hypnotic guitar exchanges evoke Johnny Marr’s peerless melodic sense and the precision of Television, had that band started a decade or so later. The record’s best tracks—“How Long Have You Known,” “Past Lives,” “Earthboy”—balance the flowing textures with structural integrity that refuses to be washed away. Like other blurry groups, the band’s potent emotions are colored by its reluctance to come up for air. In DIIV’s case, though, the music expresses plenty. “You’ll never have a home ’til you go home,” Smith sings on the album’s closing track, his voice gentle beneath guitars far more insistent. It may be out to sea, but Oshin is anything but lost.