I’ve always found the notion of harbouring feelings of empathy for any which artist to be a pretty futile, and perhaps even nonsensical pastime given the position of inordinate privilege in which so many find themselves. Yet when Zachary Cole Smith began to divulge inner truths concerning the exploitation he felt others were administering to his DIIV project, I found it hard not to sympathise with his plight. Oshin was, after all, one of the defining records of yesteryear to my ears, and Smith has been nothing but supportive of what we at Dots & Dashes are striving to achieve so when verbal brawls with his manager would break out in the despicably public arena that is Twitter, or the shameless billboard ubiquity of SXSW would get his goat – qualms again articulated informationally via his Tumblr – I felt a sense of almost fraternal protection toward him.
Though in amidst the rants and lack of raves (all spring EU dates were spurned, Smith citing burnout as motive), it’s worth remembering that so far as the music may be concerned, Smith ought still be considered amongst the vanguard of janglists and even though Dust may just be practice space tomfoolery as yet, it effortlessly betters the polished articles of his almost every contemporary. That its guitars – close to the point of becoming claustrophobic – are so readily identifiable is testament to the way in which Smith has so expeditiously forged a sonic imprint all of his own, whilst his wicked lyricisms of “feeling like a wick wax drowned and bright/ Burned skin like a string black ashes slight” tell not only of the pressure that’s been placed upon him over this past year or so, but also of just how necessary a 2k13 lyrist he really is. And once the summer dust has been allowed to settle a little better, he too may realise all this and more.