By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
Key Tracks: “Maid of the Mist,” “Apricots,” “Barf Day”
In 2015, a duo of punks from New York dropped an EP and a couple of singles on their Bandcamp under Diet Cig. After incredibly warm reception and considerable hype, Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman are back with their debut full-length, Swear I’m Good at This. Not much has changed about their sound in their two-year absence, but that’s good. The record’s packed with the same buoyant, bubbly, bouncing pop-punk tunes that Diet Cig built a fan base on. The record does see the pair stretch their arms a bit; The longer release allows them some room to breathe and slow down in a few moments. It might be exactly what you expect, but it’s all good tunes, and it’s pure Diet Cig.
Luciano, the guitar and voice of Diet Cig, is the biggest personality on the new record. Anyone who’s seen them live can attest to her vibrancy and spunk, and she shows it off in spades here. Each song is painfully honest, but the sing-song delivery turns a would-be angst party into bombastic, candy-induced road trip. There’s not a track on the album that isn’t worthy of being blared on the highway with the windows down. “Sixteen” is a dauntless opening number where Luciano sings about a jerk she dated and a barbecue that no one came to, but she doesn’t get sad about it. Amongst a spritely guitar and perky drums, she’s never caught up in feeling sorry for herself.
There’s a feeling of helpless crushing is spotted across the LP. “Maid of the Mist” and “Leo” cover it well, but iconic to the record is the opening of “Apricots”. “I wanna kiss you in the middle of a party / I wanna cause a scene”, Luciano lulls over acoustic strumming. She tells of shopping for what she thinks her mother would buy and picking up fruit that she knows she’ll never eat. Simple honesty like this is the draw of Swear I’m Good At This. It’s sort of ‘hashtag relatable’. Hooks like “I’ll probably cry when we kiss / You’ll ask me why do I / Have to be so serious” (“Maid of the Mist”) and “My stomach hurts / And it’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” (“Tummy Ache”) embody that relatability. It’s a feeling that makes each track dead-ass catchy, to the point of getting lost in just about every chorus on the album. The tone of anti-professionalism that permeates the record is, hands down, one of its best qualities.
Diet Cig doesn’t push the envelope with Swear I’m Good at This; Rather, they fill said envelope neatly and comfortably with a letter about celebrating youthful confusion – then they signed that letter with a glitter pen. Their debut gushes with wholesome, pure fun. Get some headphones on, dance around your room and jam the heck out because that’s what this record is for.