Brooklyn born band DIIV (pronounced and formerly known as ‘Dive’) are no strangers to evolution. From their first album Oshin, released in 2012, to their latest EP Sometime / Human / Geist, fans of the band have heard first-hand the growth of their musicality and sound. What started as a much more indie-pop band has transitioned to a dreamcore shoegaze band before our very eyes. Their latest album is a culmination of that growth – the best and hardest parts of it.

Before I can tell you my thoughts on the album, you need context. According to a press release from the band, Frog In Boiling Water, their fourth studio album, took four years to make and “nearly broke the band before [it] was completed.” The band set out to make an album that challenged them creatively – an admirable feat, but one that resulted in complications. In the making of this album, the idea of what friendship meant was tested. In fact, the band had to sit down together and talk out their issues, or the album wouldn’t exist at all.

The result? A stunning, haunted piece of artistry that beautifully encapsulates what it means to have to grow, as an artist and a person.

With their newest release, the band has not reinvented themselves per say. But there is an evident evolution in their sound. Shoegaze as a genre is meant to feel different with every song within it. Essentially, the music needs to float in a melodic and full of reverb way. DIIV has taken that classic sound and pushed it, creating an album that feels uncomfortably entrancing. As you listen, you feel. And before your ears start to feel nestled into the sound, they bring you something unexpected.

“Amber”, the first track, throws this in your face almost immediately. A snare heavy drum beat contrasts the echoing guitar and immediately drops you into a soft rock melody. Slowly, the song builds in an anxiety-inducing way, eventually landing in a musical fight. Vocals from Zachary Cole Smith slide in between each musical note, exclaiming how he wants to disappear. The lyrics are brutal and gorgeous, terrifying and heartfelt, perfectly mimicked by the music.

But the poetic lyricism of the first track don’t stop there. It follows throughout the entire album. Title track “Frog in Boiling Water” leans a bit more into a harder side of shoegaze, which accompanies the lyrics in an interesting way. Smith sings “Wasted all the commons / a looted golden calf / Ivory towers and ivory crosses / My livelihood is rotting in your hand.” It feels very reminiscent of earlier songs of the genre.

Then comes a song like “Everyone Out”, which takes a guitar pluck and soft strum and transports you into you into an entirely new world. It almost feels as it is a second for you to let your guard down, letting the music envelope you. It’s not ‘haunting’ or ‘mournful’. It is the moment the band seems to find hope.

As the album winds down, it feels like the resolution in a storybook’s arc. “Soul-net” stuck out to me in this part of the album. It has an explosive build towards the end that is quite different from what you hear in the beginning of the album. It’s a brighter euphony of notes and feels like the hope from “Everyone Out”.

By the ending track “Fender on the Freeway”, you feel as if you’ve fallen into the music, into the world DIIV has created in this journey, and you simply ride with the guitar strings, essentially. With the turmoil surrounding the album, the ending is poetic beauty. It’s softer and brighter and guitarist Andrew Bailey, bassist Colin Caulfield, and drummer Ben Newman are playing with each other and bouncing off each other, rather than against each other like with the first track.

It feels important to note that the title is a reference to Daniel Quinn’s The Story of B. In a press release, the band explained how that reference correlates to the album: 

“We understand the metaphor to be one about a slow, sick, and overwhelmingly banal collapse of society under end-stage capitalism, the brutal realities we’ve maybe come to accept as normal. That’s the boiling water and we are the frogs. The album is more or less a collection of snapshots from various angles of our modern condition which we think highlights what this collapse looks like and, more particularly, what it feels like.”

My least favorite part of the album is that it ends, truthfully. However, I think the band did an amazing job at story telling with this album. From beginning to end, you are encapsulated in this world that feels rough and ragged and then feels so smooth and full. In fact, when it does restart, it is absolutely jarring and slightly startling. You, essentially, start the story over again. This album is a meticulous, atmospheric, entrancing masterpiece.  

Save the new album here and catch DIIV in Phoenix at the Van Buren on June 25th!

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