Frog In Boiling Water


Produced by Chris Coady, Frog In Boiling Water was a four-year process that nearly broke the band before the album was completed. With an aim to push their sound, make a record that challenged them, and treat the band as a democracy for the first time, DIIV began an ambitious journey, both individually and collectively. This journey left their relationships with one another fraying, with the many complex dynamics of family, friendship and finances entangled, coupled with suspicions, resentments, bruised egos and anxious questions. They ultimately found their way through, and the result is 10 songs that mine a new lyrical and musical depth, those two halves mirroring one another inside a reflective and immersive whole. It is a mesmeric testament to enduring, to envisioning anything else on the other side while you remain here, in the slowly heating water of right now.

Frog in Boiling Water, both the title and the themes of the record, reference “The Boiling Frog” in Daniel Quinn’s The Story of B. The band explains, “If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”

“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.”

Frog In Boiling Water Track List

  1. In Amber
  2. Brown Paper Bag
  3. Raining On Your Pillow
  4. Frog In Boiling Water
  5. Everyone Out
  6. Reflected
  7. Somber the Drums
  8. Little Birds
  9. Soul-net
  10. Fender on the Freeway

More on DIIV & Frog in Boiling Water:

Frog in Boiling Water is a gorgeous and haunted record, as DIIV gaze into our collective oblivion and try to articulate a trace of hope inside that enveloping gloom. Balancing rhythms first built from breakbeats and inspired by post-industrial power with guitars and vocals that often billow like diaphanous drapery, Frog in Boiling Water is mighty but breezy, greyscale but opalescent. Though DIIV helped to foster a shoegaze scene that has since swept up many imaginations, they rose above it despite nearly falling apart.

The instant DIIV finished Deceiver in early 2019, they were ready to run it back, to make another live-in-the-room record as soon as possible. The sessions had been brief and efficient, the four members in newfound lockstep. Could they amplify that feeling? They never got the chance. With the world upended, every member began working on their own pieces, individual tastes accreting into a mountain of material so large they began to grade each item, A to F. They daydreamed about what the pieces might eventually make, sometimes discarding the notion of a “rock record” for one made with computers and samples or sometimes pondering something as heavy and blissful as Justin K. Broadrick’s Jesu. There were samples, tape machines, breakbeats: Everything seemed possible, open, new.

DIIV had once been hamstrung by obdurate headlines, gossip about Smith’s personal problems often overshadowing the work of the cohesive, smart rock quartet they had gradually become. What’s more, Smith co-founded United Musicians and Allied Workers, an organization devoted to wresting power away from an entertainment oligarchy. Principles from both scenarios—no hierarchy and equal participation, no overriding front man but instead four people interacting in full—had become central to DIIV’s approach, prompting them to move as a democracy more than ever before.

This equitable approach created inevitable strain, especially when DIIV finally rendezvoused in early 2022 to figure out how all their enthusiasms could cohere. They decamped to a rented home in the Mojave, guitars, recording gear, and a clutch of books about humanity’s failures, psychological warfare, and Zen poetry in tow. They worked 13 hours a day for 10 days straight, so taxed as they tried to circle a sound that Caulfield earned himself a case of nicotine poisoning. They hoped to finish the bulk of the record there, to capture a room sound that felt ineffable. But stress mounted as they struggled to solidify what their fourth album could be, to funnel their individual passions into a collective whole that also said something about our precarious moment. They headed home without a record.

Even when the conflicts felt insurmountable, and with the addition of producer Chris Coady,  five personalities vying for a say in DIIV’s future, they all showed up and tried, anyway. They all worked to get better, too. Sometimes that meant Newman was up at 7 a.m. to practice breakbeats created by some of the best drummers in the world. Sometimes that meant Coady setting up a tape machine in his backyard, Bailey filling it with warped tape samples that DIIV could then weave into the worlds they were trying to build. And Smith became a father in November 2022, prompting a three-month pause as he wrestled with a central, difficult question at home: How could he lyrically conjure a dystopia with a newborn in the house, or pair the new hope he had with an honest assessment of the world he knew? It all felt like that midair moment during a complicated skateboard trick, wondering if you have what it takes to land the thing.

During the process of making Frog in Boiling Water, the future seemed very much in doubt for DIIV. They were exhausted, broke, and bruised, having spent four years in a four-way trust fall without knowing how it might end. Voicing concerns doesn’t always fix them, of course, but could they understand one another enough to carry on, together? They did, finally starting the process of finishing Frog in Boiling Water in the days that followed. Still, everyone in DIIV will tell you now that those conflicts—the natural result of four people whose lives have become so intertwined, trying to make art that speaks to humanity’s current place on a complicated precipice—still exist. To some extent, they remain an engine inside of their art.

That is, in many ways, the essence of Frog in Boiling Water, a record about doing your best to carry on in spite of oft-grim prospects. On Frog in Boiling Water, DIIV taxed their bonds and brotherhood, pushing themselves to the brink as a band and as buds. Though DIIV helped to foster a shoegaze scene that has since swept up many imaginations, they rose above it despite nearly falling apart. On these 10 songs,  they brood beautifully inside music that frets about the present and future—but at least acknowledges it can still exist.

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