If Diet Cig were to write this verdict, it would read: "They're lazy."
Whilst traversing the inevitable final year problem of trying to find something interesting to do after graduation by searching through a smorgasbord of different music review sites, I stumbled into a review for Diet Cig‘s ‘Barf Day.’ I was hooked. However, after listening debut album Swear I’m Good At This, I probably won’t be turning to Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman’s New York-based creation anytime soon.
In ‘Sixteen,’ the record begins on a song that is nothing short of difficult to listen to. Its lat, whiny vocals are a mismatch for the slower introductory beat, and whilst it does get better as the song continues, it is confusing as to why the band choose to lead with one of the worst from the album. Its spread of bombastic ups and hushed downs form a persistent pattern that is needed when a pop-punk vocalist cannot reach the hard notes, yet it still doesn’t work. ‘Bite Back’ and ‘Barf Day’ are effectively less whiny and more guitary versions of this, working better as Luciano doesn’t have to struggle to match the backing track with her vocals.
Laziness and Diet Cig appear to go hand in hand. ‘Leo’ and ‘Road Trip’ are starkly reminiscent of ‘Barf Day’ – the former is only 1:30 in length; the latter sung more drearily. ‘Blob Zombie,’ a stereotypical pop-punk song, pairs a style of backing music that is ever present in this genre with obvious and purely aspirational lyrics (“I wanna be the best”). Things pick up with ‘Apricots’ as the acoustic setting makes a nice change and matches incredibly well with Luciano’s voice, and with the introduction of intriguing lyrics (“Why did I buy four apricots? / I’ll never eat them before they rot / They’ll just become an afterthought”) similarities to rockier versions of Kate Nash and Lily Allen become evident. Throughout, it is these acoustic segments always work better however, at barely more than a minute, it only offers a tiny preview as to how good the band could be.
Generally, lyrically the songs work well: “I’m not being dramatic / I’ve just fucking had it with the things that you say you think that I should be” (‘Link In Bio’) and “I am bigger than the outside shell of my body / And if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry” (‘Maid Of The Mist’) are just two examples of Diet Cig’s capability for excellent songwriting. The latter shows off some synthetic sounds for a nice hint of something different, and the surprise in ‘I Don’t Know Her’ – again it’s slowed down, never breaking into a more aggressive tone – works better than the majority of the album.
However, by the time I got to closer ‘Tummy Ache,’ I just wanted Swear I’m Good At This to hurry up and finish. It isn’t half bad, but when you’ve just listened to nine songs and two, well, pseudo-songs that are mostly identical, it’s not exactly something I’d want to listen to again anytime soon.
Swear I’m Good At This is out now via Frenchkiss