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DIIV - Frog in Boiling Water (Album Review)

Tuesday, 04 June 2024 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Shervin Lainez

If you’re not familiar with the expression “frog in boiling water” then rest assured, it’s not something you’d want to experience. Except you are experiencing it right now – we all are – in a world that slowly crushes the life out of even the most optimistic souls. As the Verve once put it, “you’re a slave to money then you die”. 

On their fourth record, Los Angeles-based shoegazers DIIV cajole us into a Eureka! moment, wedding their grungy shoegaze to a creeping feeling of impending doom and an eye-opening message that more and more people are waking up to.

Singer songwriter Zachary Cole Smith has released the reins here, allowing all band members to contribute fully to the process for the first time.

However, that caused issues with four opinions being difficult to reconcile and relationships continuously becoming frayed. As such, it’s a miracle ‘Frog in Boiling Water’ is here at all.

Slow-burning opener Amber blends disturbed, layered guitars with an overarching air of misery. It’s very clear from the outset what the message is. “End of history,” Smith intones.

There are “rotating villains [who] profit off suffering”. “I want to disappear,” he adds. The mesmerising Raining on Your Pillow is equally direct as he sings “we’re just fodder for the army op”. Yet, somehow, musically, it’s soothing. Equally, the superb title track stands out in the sea of despondency, its chorus and melodies worthy of adulation.

Soul-net’s “they own our lives and harvest our suffering” are perhaps the most eye-opening words on the album, while the minimalist, hollow shell of Everyone Out represents the process of someone moving from tepid curiosity to total disillusionment with all things. Lead single Brown Paper Bag, while sounding like Engineers because of Smith’s hushed vocal tones, marries edginess with gloomy guitars as its lyrics hint at dealing with personal issues. “The past erased,” Smith sings. “I’ll embrace my mistakes”.

DIIV have tended to delve into inner trauma before but this is different — ‘Frog in Boiling Water’ is about capitalism and, quite possibly, the collapse of society as we know it. Closer Fender on the Freeway sums it up by acknowledging that we are all simply “walking the Earth like ants on a sugar ball”. It’s just that while we do, a fully loaded tanker is steaming towards our dilapidated wooden jetty at full speed.

DIIV Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon December 02 2024 - BRIGHTON Chalk, Brighton
Thu December 05 2024 - BRISTOL SWX
Fri December 06 2024 - BIRMINGHAM XOYO
Sat December 07 2024 - GLASGOW TV Studio SWG3
Sun December 08 2024 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Newcastle University Student Union
Mon December 09 2024 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Tue December 10 2024 - SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms

Compare & Buy DIIV Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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