Review Summary: Frog lives!
Back in 2015, the world became a goofier, more beautiful place. Thanks to Frog – a lo-fi indie band that recorded its debut LP Kind of Blah
under a New York City bowling alley –hip, self-loathing, musically-addicted geeks (this is in no way a self-reference) had somewhere to turn. In blending uplifting, punky grinders like ‘Fucking’ with somber, thought-provoking slow burners like ‘Wish Upon a Bar’, the band crafted something that was different just because of how utterly strange it was. Frog felt like our next door neighbors; some rowdy kids who formed a garage band to sing about dirty magazines while pounding beers and losing their shit on the drums.
They have that
kind of relatability. They’re a band you want to root for just because no one knows who the fuck they are, and they seem like a cool crowd. So let’s fast forward just a tad over three years, where Frog have dropped another album out of nowhere. Whatever We Probably Already Had It
is…an EP？A mini-LP？It’s mostly being labeled as the latter, with eight songs clocking in at twenty minutes. The record proves that the duo’s humor hasn’t died (“Yes by god I’m American / God is great he’s hilarious / What the fuck y’all staring at”), that they can still craft a hauntingly beautiful song (‘God Once Loved a Woman’), and that there is no limit to their quirky, off-the-wall energy (‘Journey to the Restroom’). This is very much the follow-up that fans of Kind of Blah
After a brief seventeen second intro that is simply the band chanting its own name, the album launches into ‘American’, a track that makes sure not to take itself serious, like, at all. The highlight of the song comes when they explode into a cacophony of drums and electric guitars midway through the track, joined by an exaggerated wail of “God bless the USA.” ‘Something to Hide’ is more of a conventional track (by Frog standards, so it’s not really all that normal anyway), featuring some verses about an unfaithful girlfriend (‘there’s something to hide…you would have been a beautiful bride”) before launching into a nearly minute long, repeated “ahh ah ahh ah ahh” howl that takes up basically a third of the song. It ends by returning to another verse about her infidelity, “Home before noon in time to shower…oh, you’re such a coward.” The emotional epicenter of the album is ‘God Once Loved a Woman’, which stands alone as easily the best song Frog has ever written. The lyrics are poetic and moving, “Her blouse caught the sun and her eyes lit up, like she recognized someone…He reached through the thin smoke and touched the yellow glass, through the cold burning past / Now all the boneyards tremble with her name…He said you are the most beautiful thing that I made.” The musical backdrop consists primarily of soft acoustic picking and gradually emboldening ambience, until the lead vocalist erupts (as he tends to often) into some fringe-shouted lyrics accompanied by powerful drumming.
The second half of this release is a little more laid back – ‘Gimme Your Number’ is just a minute and forty-five seconds of whistling (with no other lyrics), and ‘Journey to the Restroom’ is a vague account of a woman dying in a bathroom with multiple vulgar but unspecific allusions (“3 am vomit in cones on the street”, “You lead you don’t follow, you cum you don’t swallow”). ‘Bones’ is a stream of recollections atop the same chord strummed over and over, and ‘Don’t Tell Me Where You’re Going’ is a twangy, stomping closer that feels like a tale of unrequited love (“I’ve missed you ‘specially of late / A shadow crosses her face / Don’t tell me where you’re going, ‘cause I can’t be trusted knowing”) interjected by Frog’s ceaseless ability to crack jokes even in serious-sounding songs (“I met a boy he’s nice, found his lord and savior in Jesus Christ… Yes lord, don’t be afraid, God is with us every day, pumpin’ Alice in Chains in the driveway”). It just wouldn’t be a Frog album if they didn’t leave us wondering what the fuck we just listened to.
Whatever We Probably Already Had It
is a superb sophomore effort. It remains loyal to the band’s identity, while crafting another set of tracks that bewilder, feel
, thrill, and laugh all the way. It contains the best song they ever wrote (‘God Once Loved a Woman’ is like ‘Wish Upon a Bar’, but even more affecting), and cuts out some of the lighter and more forgettable stuff that kept Kind of Blah
from being a cult indie classic. Basically, Frog is still doing Frog, and they’re doing it better than ever.