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Hi.

Welcome to Rob Hakimian’s website, collecting together the best of his writing from over the years.

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DIIV - Is The Is Are

[Captured Tracks]

DIIV’s debut album Oshin was both a breath of fresh air and a complete retread of all the great dream-pop/shoegaze tropes of the 90s and 2000s. What kept it interesting was the dynamics that Zach Smith and his band brought to the table; intertwining jangling guitars, thrusting rhythm sections, and a penchant for eyes-down gliding to a bumpy and thrilling finale. Is The Is Are is the long-awaited follow-up, and for anyone who loved DIIV’s sound on the first album, I can’t imagine them having anything but fun when listening to it.

In the years off between albums, Zach Smith has had a tough time; dealing with heroin addiction, an unnecessarily public relationship with Sky Ferreira, being arrested for possession, homophobic bandmates – of course this has all impacted the sound of the new album. While the basic template of quicksilver guitars and golden melodies is still firmly intact, there is undoubtedly more of a darkness or edge on this album. Zach Smith’s lyrics are buried deep in the sound, so you might only catch snippets of his words like “I was high but now I feel low, my own private I don’t know,” or “once it feels right you just lost the fight,” which give hints at his inner mental struggles. These whispers are illuminated craftily by the musicality of the songs, which casts long shadows via its deep anchoring bass and projects sharp shards of light via its luminous guitars.

Is The Is Are flits back and forth between these two polarities of happiness or sadness – but one is always tinged with the other, which realises the addiction and depression that went into the creation of this album. For every languorous, deflating ode like “Bent (Roi’s Song)” there’s a high-speed burner like “Incarnate Devil.” For every seething, brutally dark churner like “Mire (Grant’s Song)” there’s a hopeful, weightless pop punk jam like “Under The Sun,” or the glistening ice-skating "Loose Ends." This is all put together best in the utterly stunning “Dopamine,” which takes these sun-drenched, irresistible guitar melodies and pairs them with one of Smith’s most frail and needy vocal performances, earning themselves a truly stunning and captivating song: “You’re the sun and I am your cloud / Burning down, running in place / Got so high I finally felt like myself.”

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Below you can see my top 50 albums of the year list.

50| Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS
49| Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits
48| Daughter - Not To Disappear
47| The Avalanches - Wildflower
46| Beyonce - Lemonade
45| Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
44| Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best
43| James Blake - The Colour In Anything
42| Lambchop - FLOTUS
41| Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
40| Nothing - Tired Of Tomorrow
39| Camp Cope - Camp Cope
38| Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years
37| Aphex Twin - Cheetah EP
36| Mary Lattimore - At The Dam
35| Woods - City Sun Eater In The River Of Light
34| White Lung - Paradise
33| Solange - A Seat At The Table
32| Wild Beasts - Boy King
31| Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
30| Marissa Nadler - Strangers
29| Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat To Earth
28| Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
27| Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.
26| Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
25| Kedr Livanskiy - January Sun
24| Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
23| Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Lines
22| Pantha du Prince - The Triad
21| Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
20| Cavern of Anti-Matter - void beats/invocation trex
19| Olga Bell - Tempo
18| Chairlift - Moth
17| Mitski - Puberty 2
16| Anderson .Paak - Malibu
15| Underworld - Barbara, Barbara we face a shining future
14| Xenia Rubinos - Black Terry Cat
13| Savages - Adore Life
12| DIIV - Is The Is Are
11| Frank Ocean - Blonde
10| Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
09| MONEY - Suicide Songs
08| Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
07| A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
06| Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
05| Angel Olsen - My Woman
04| Parquet Courts - Human Performance
03| Preoccupations - Preoccupations
02| ANOHNI - Hopelessness
01| Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

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