With coming-of-age tales about awkward sexual encounters, broken hearts and insecurity, ‘Swear I’m Good At This’, sees New York duo Diet Cig offer a thoroughly honest collection of songs that resonate beyond their charismatic, upbeat skin. Early cuts such as ‘Bite Back’ and ‘Link In Bio’ set out the blueprint of insightful indie-pop sing-a-longs centered round Alex Luciano’s vocals. The latter in particualr is an early highlight, while, ‘Maid Of The Mist’ builds on the established sound with the inclusions of synths, which sit nicely alongside Luciano’s light vocals.
There is a certain quirkiness to Diet Cig’s sound, yet it never strays too far from their indie-punk sound. Most striking in this deviation is the glorious ‘Barf Day’. Led by infectious melodies and twinkly guitars, it transitions into an energetic emo-pop anthem with two vocal tracks intertwining until the song’s peak.
Yet one of Diet Cig’s strengths is knowing how to use the art of minimalism to their advantage. ‘Bath Bomb’ is a perfect example of this, the majority of the song features just a simple guitar and Luciano’s light vocals, before building to a satisfying conclusion. Songs like this really emphasises the juxtaposition in song dynamics, something that excels throughout ‘Swear I’m Good At This’. It’s joyously brief too; most tracks struggle to get anywhere near the three minute marks, meaning you’re simply confronted with endless endearing melodies and often charming – and more often insightful – lyrics.
Luciano’s biographical lyrics serve as the backbone to ‘Swear…’, with songs such as ‘Blob Zombie’ and ‘Road Trip’ feeling instantly and engagingly relatable. ‘Apricots’ and ‘I Don’t Know Her’ highlights Luciano’s introspective side too, countering the blistering, bristling frustration shown on album closer ‘Tummy Ache’.
Together, Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman have supplied a delightfully alluring indie-pop masterpiece that deftly combines the duo’s roughhewn DIY punk ethos and perceptive lyricism. Throw in some adroit melodies and easy hooks and ‘Swear…’ is winner on just about every level.
’ Swear I’m Good At This’ by Diet Cig is released on 7th April on Frenchkiss Records.
Words by Ryan Wilson (@thrillcollins_)