Frog In Boiling Water

Frog In Boiling Water

DIIV has always been a musical shape-shifter—subtly mutating into new forms that are deeply felt by those who pay close attention to its sonic textures. The band’s debut album, 2012’s Oshin, was double-dipped in the chiming guitars of classic indie pop and post-punk’s intense persistence; Is the Is Are, from 2016, stretched lush dream-pop weavings across its wide canvas, while 2019’s Deceiver dove headlong into shoegaze’s bottomless bliss. For its first album in five years, the quartet led by Zachary Cole Smith takes its catalog into several thrilling new turns: At various points, Frog in Boiling Water conjures the sweeping drama of goth à la Seventeen Seconds-era The Cure, slowcore’s crushing and hypnotic beauty, and the metallic textures of vintage grunge. DIIV has never sounded so devastating, so ominous, and so utterly pristine as it does on Frog in Boiling Water—a triumph in fidelity that’s owed as much to veteran indie-rock producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Future Islands) as it is to the band’s locked-in interplay. Smith and Andrew Bailey’s guitars drip like melted candles over the vast expanse of “Soul-net,” while “Brown Paper Bag” stomps and splashes with every cymbal crash, courtesy of drummer Ben Newman. This might be the heaviest music DIIV has ever put to tape, and its doomy sound perfectly matches the album’s foreboding themes. Borrowing its title from a central metaphor in Daniel Quinn’s 1996 novel The Story of B, Frog in Boiling Water takes aim at what the band refers to as “the slow, sick, and overwhelmingly banal collapse of society under end-stage capitalism,” and a close read of Smith’s lyrics indeed reveals a sense of wide-scale distrust, as well as general societal malaise. But even at its most despairing, DIIV never forgets that retaining a sense of humanity is key to surviving what lies ahead: “The worst of times/Leave them behind,” Smith implores over the soaring riffs of “Reflected.” “But keep that lump in your throat.”

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