Diet Cig - 'Swear I'm Good At This'
Originality8.5
Lyrics7.6
Replay Value7.7
Instrumentation5.7
Overall Impact7.1
We Liked...
  • The nostalgia and sincerity
  • The vocals and lyrics
  • The brevity of the album
We Disliked...
  • How short it was. The songs were all short, why not have a few more?
  • The instrumentation didn't set any worlds on fire
  • It lacked that one, brilliant song
7.3Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
6.9
Diet Cig – ‘Swear I’m Good At This’
Originality8.5
Lyrics7.6
Replay Value7.7
Instrumentation5.7
Overall Impact7.1
We Liked…
  • The nostalgia and sincerity
  • The vocals and lyrics
  • The brevity of the album
We Disliked…
  • How short it was. The songs were all short, why not have a few more?
  • The instrumentation didn’t set any worlds on fire
  • It lacked that one, brilliant song

2017-04-03

7.3Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

6.9

Coming from New York is Diet Cig, a punk-poppy-indie two-piece consisting of vocalist and guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman. The group formed in 2014, going on to release their first record – an EP named ‘Over Easy’, which was met with critical acclaim. The sincere nature of their music and heart-on-their-sleeves attitude won over many, with the only real criticism citing the band’s relative inexperience and infancy. Having signed with Frenchkiss Records in early 2017, Diet Cig looked poised for bigger things as they prepared for their debut LP.

So how do the outfit fare with a full-length release? Pretty well actually!

What made their last EP great is still very much present here. The album starts with a brooding, slow build in ‘Sixteen’, with Luciano using her breathy, crooning tone to set a youthful yet jaded atmosphere, before the guitar picks the song up and into a full-blown, nostalgia-laden diatribe on the loneliness of youth.

This style recurs throughout – there is certainly a very noticeable ‘fuck you’ vibe to this album. The music bursts with energy, which the band channel into their life-affirming tales with gutsy heart at the core. Lyrics like “I’m going to live forever” gel extremely well with the simplistic and restrained instrumentation and vocals. It’s sort of like if the TV show Skins were to make a pop-punk album – bursting with a desperate energy only present during one’s formative years, but with the notion that the realities of life have beaten down and jaded those who carry that very energy.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/ePnrP7sIH_c?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Lead single ‘Tummy Ache’ is a defiant anthem about the difficulties of Luciano’s younger years as she sings “It’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt”. The two and a half minute track plays out a little like a coming-of-age narrative, ending the record on a high and rather catchy note.

One of the best things about this album is the brevity of the individual songs. Several only just scratch a minute in length, meaning none overstay their welcome and most leave you wanting more. This contributes to the nostalgia effect this album is creating. Guitarist Luciano only learnt how to play after forming Diet Cig, which has led the music to be relatively simple and unpolished – it sounds like it was written by a teenager. This is of course by design, and has been executed very well by the duo.

This isn’t to say the unique style of the album doesn’t occasionally detract from it. The short song times do get frustrating after a while, and the band never seem to let everything go in an all-out display of musical grandiose. It lacks that one song that makes everyone’s heads turn and listen. This will surely come in time as the band mature and move on musically, but it is a noticeable weakness on ‘Swear I’m Good at This’. I also would have liked to hear a little more from the drummer, who I feel puts in a competent if unspectacular performance – although how much of this notion is due to the focus of critical response to the front-woman and her songwriting style rather than the rest of the instrumentation is difficult to pinpoint.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/mIbRRHg_NaY?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

The endearing petulance of youth that this album captures is complemented by the pop-indie-punk style of music. Avoiding the sound of the archetypal American pop-punk, the group instead went for an almost B-Town-sounding indie-tinged pop-punk, like a cross between circa-2008 The Ting Tings and any of the bands that appeared on The Inbetweeners soundtrack. It’s definitely an infectious sound that paints the group as an underdog to be rallied around. Whilst this approach has definitely paid dividends this time, I am quite curious as to what a more mature, experienced Diet Cig could offer us in the next few years. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out!

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