Diet Cig – ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ album review

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Due to their incendiary live shows, Diet Cig are already a beloved cult favourite and now the New Paltz, New York duo are finally getting set to release their debut album ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ via Frenchkiss Records.

The record opens with ‘Sixteen’, a song that finds Alex Luciano recalling her teenage years and the time she dated a boy who had the same name as her. Almost immediately she mentions how ‘it was weird in the back of his truck, moaning my name, while trying to fuck’. This honest approach laced with wicked humour is a feature of Diet Cig’s sound and it continues on ‘Bite Back’, a Los Campesinos!-esque piece that finds her lamenting the fact that she is ‘trying so hard to be mad but so far (is) just really fucking sad’. She then follows it up with the confession ‘I am so lonely in this big city and everyone is so damn shitty’ and you can’t help but resonate with this, especially if you’ve ever felt out of place in a strange location. However, Alex knows exactly what she wants and won’t be messed around: ‘Maid of the Mist’ opens with the line ‘I want to hold a seance for every heart I’ve broken, put them all in a room and say ‘get over it”, before then going on to give a warning everyone should take note that ‘I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry’.

We’ve covered ‘Barf Day’ on Spectral Nights before and this is a Be Your Own Pet-esque song all about a 21st birthday that doesn’t quite go to plan. Throughout it, Alex sings about wanting ice cream on her birthday and how she wants to ‘blow the candles out, wish all the pain away’. ‘Bath Bomb’ is more introspective and sparse as it opens with Alex saying how ‘I see my sister and mother. I miss her. I know it’s hard showing the world who you are, isn’t it?’ The fantastically titled ‘Blob Zombie’ is frantic and fun from the very first note and with Noah Bowman’s pummelling drumbeat backing it up, it’s a slackerpop song that celebrates the fact ‘I just want to sleep in’ and how ‘I want to be the best one at this but I don’t want to get out of bed’. Does anyone else often feel that way?

With its feel of Best Coast soundtracking a John Hughes film, ‘Road Trip’ repeatedly asks the question of ‘Do you want to go on a road trip?’ Alex then she invites you to join her as we ‘make our way down to Texas and eat tacos for breakfast’ before finally encouraging you to ‘forget about our everyday obligations’. ‘I Don’t Know Her’ showcases a more introverted side to the band: ‘Tell me I’m special. Make me feel invincible’. Although the melody is wistful and there are moments of vulnerability throughout (‘Tell me you’re better, not like all the others… listen to N’Sync cassettes’), Alex makes sure you know she is in charge of her own destiny: ‘I don’t want to make you cry, you seem like a nice guy’. The closing track on the album, ‘Tummy Ache’ finds Alex lamenting the fact the punk-rock scene still seems to be dominated by men who seem intent on telling her what to do: ‘I don’t need a man to hold my hand and that’s something you’ll never understand’. As the song drives forward, it becomes more anthemic and powerful as Alex sticks two fingers up at those who underestimate her and explains how ‘my stomach hurts because it’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt’.

Capturing many elements of growing up and young adulthood and observing them all with striking wit and a feminist touch, Diet Cig’s debut album is an important and exhilarating listen you’ll easily get addicted to.

 

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