Diiv is a shoegaze band to believe in

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Two days before they’re due to play the first date of a headlining theater tour, the members of the rock band Diiv are sitting around a picnic table in the parking lot of a Burbank rehearsal studio, reminiscing about the arena shows they opened last fall for Depeche Mode.

They talk about the glittery jackets frontman Dave Gahan wore onstage (only to slip them off after a few minutes) and the moves he’d bust every night on a catwalk; they talk about the confidence they developed by playing in front of thousands of people who hadn’t turned up to see Diiv (but who were open to being won over by the right performance).

Also: They talk about catering. “Man, I miss that,” guitarist Andrew Bailey says as though lost in a memory of endless chafing dishes.

Diiv is going without many of the borrowed perks of A-list rock stardom on the road behind its latest album, “Frog in Boiling Water.” After launching in early June, the tour stops at the Wiltern in Los Angeles — Diiv’s hometown, more or less, since three of the four members moved here from New York a few years ago — on Saturday night.

Yet the musicians, all in their mid to late 30s, seem no less eager to be out playing their new songs; indeed, they say the music reflects the fact that “we’ve committed our lives to this band,” as bassist Colin Caulfield puts it, even minus the kind of “long-term infrastructure” that might appeal to people their age. Adds Caulfield, wryly: “No one’s matching our 401(k).”

Diiv’s determination is warranted. Easily the most impressive of the group’s four LPs, “Frog in Boiling Water” is probably also the best rock record released so far this year: a dense and luxurious set of hooky post-shoegaze guitar jams that evokes a dream-pop Nirvana. With their layers of fuzz and their trippy yet propulsive grooves, songs like “Brown Paper Bag” and “Raining on Your Pillow” fit easily into the shoegaze revival that’s taken off lately on TikTok and introduced bands from the 1980s and ’90s such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive — noisy but sensitive types known for staring down at their effects pedals — to a new generation of young fans. Yet Diiv pairs those immersive textures with songwriting much sturdier than what you’ll find on, say, Spotify’s popular Shoegaze Now playlist.

“When it comes to music in this genre, there’s a lot of trying to emulate what’s come before,” says Jasamine White-Gluz of the Montreal band No Joy, which has toured with Diiv. “So you’re kind of just doing a ‘Loveless’ or doing a ‘Souvlaki’ — trying to fit in the box of what shoegaze is,” she adds, referring to the seminal albums by MBV and Slowdive, respectively. “Diiv doesn’t do that — they’ve got their own sound. They’re in the box but they’re making the box bigger.”

Part of what distinguishes “Frog in Boiling Water” is the political thrust of singer Zachary Cole Smith’s lyrics, which ponder the brutality of late-stage capitalism and the deceptions of the military-industrial complex — ideas he says he was drawn to after he and his wife brought their first child into the world about a year ago. (That his words about “rotating villains profit[ing] off suffering” are intelligible at all represents something of a break from a lot of shoegaze music, in which vocals serve as just one more instrumental component.)

“I think the record has a sense of hope,” Smith says, “despite all the evidence that we’re heading toward total f—ing collapse.”

Optimistic or not, the album’s focus on the outside world represents Smith’s effort to move beyond the personal demons that long defined Diiv. In 2013, Smith was arrested in New York with his then-girlfriend, singer Sky Ferreira, for possession of heroin; he exhaustively detailed his experiences with addiction and recovery on Diiv’s 2016 “Is the Is Are” and 2019 “Deceiver.” Of the latter, Smith says his hope was that it “took the trash out a little bit, so that now we can talk about other things in our music.”

Yet a recent review of “Frog in Boiling Water” in Pitchfork made him wonder if he’s attained that leeway. In a thread on X that went indie-rock viral, Smith wrote about seeing his music “met with an unwillingness to accept me as the person I’ve worked so diligently the last eight years to become”; he also lamented that his bandmates — Diiv’s fourth member is drummer Ben Newman — are “still at the mercy of a public tendency to root discussion of our band around a past that they personally suffered from as well.” (The review, which was positive, opened with a mention of Smith’s arrest.)

“These events in my life, I don’t get to decide when people stop talking about them,” Smith acknowledges in Burbank. “But not including the rest of the story or where it led me, I think that’s a damaging mind-set for people in sobriety. It makes me sad to think about somebody who’s experiencing addiction seeing that and being like, ‘Damn, I’m just always going to be this destructive force,’” he says. “People can change — profoundly.”

One effect of Smith’s change is a democratizing of Diiv’s creative process. During the band’s early days, the music was unquestionably a product of Smith’s vision, a situation he looks back at with complicated feelings: “In my active addiction I was selfish and ego-driven in a really unsustainable way,” he admits; recovery led him to “want to retreat from a leadership role” and invite more participation from his bandmates à la Sonic Youth, to name one touchstone act with more than one person in a controlling role.

“I think that choice to open it up to being everyone’s band is what made the record great,” says Chris Coady, who produced “Frog in Boiling Water” and who’s known for his work with TV on the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “As a producer, it was a bit of a nightmare,” he adds with a laugh, explaining that getting everyone to agree on every decision meant that the sessions at his studio in northeast L.A. weren’t brief. “But all four of them are good at all kinds of stuff, and this allowed them to come together in such a cool way.”

That shared investment in Diiv — and in the belief that together they’ve hit a new artistic peak with “Frog in Boiling Water” — has buoyed the band’s members after a long stretch of turmoil, even at a moment when making a living as a musician feels more precarious to many than it has in decades.

“All our eggs are in this basket,” Smith says as he heads back into rehearsal. “It’s scary — and thrilling.”

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