Release Date: Apr 7, 2017
Record label: Frenchkiss Records
"When I was sixteen/ I dated a boy with my own name/ It was weird in the back of his truck/ Moaning my own name/ While trying to fuck." If ever an opening verse proved symptomatic of what was to come. Diet Cig's debut album Swear I'm Good At This is a reclamation of female sexual agency, a physical mandate for equality, a gauntlet-throwing promise for world domination, and the most fun I've had with a punk album this year. Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman first announced their pedigree for roof-disintegrating anthemica with 2015 EPs Over Easy and Sleep Talk; their proclivity for shoulder-dancing riffs, addictive witticisms, and hangover truths, telegraphed on 'Dinner Date' and cult favourite 'Harvard'.
But a true coming-of-age album? Now those are a rarity. Obviously many bands have tackled the struggles of growing up, and there are albums that are so synonymous with growing up, but very few devote more than one or two songs to it, never mind a whole album. It's usually a feeling rather than explicitly diving into it. And that's where Diet Cig and their thrashy, sparky debut Swear I'm Good at This comes in, graffitied diary and hip flask of vodka in hand.
It feels like Diet Cig has been around far too long for Swear I'm Good At This to be their debut album. The New York-based duo released their five-song Over Easy EP--about ten total minutes of music--more than two years ago. Frontwoman/punk sprite Alex Luciano's earnest teen angst and the EP's undoctored, authentic sound caught critics' ears, and the band's rollicking live show helped them build a sizable fanbase, but the band at that point consisted mostly of potential.
A lightning combustor that takes all of life’s slights, crumples them up, and spews out the whole bundle out the other side in an entirely more positive form, ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ is a debut which makes empowerment out of a heap of trash. "I feel like garbage, doesn’t mean I’m wasted," drawls Alex Luciano on ‘Bite Back’. It’s a fitting mantra for a record concerned with finding power in the sharing of personal experience, and validating feelings of all descriptions.
"Can we hang, no strings attached? Listen to 'N Sync cassettes?" A typical come-on from Diet Cig, and an invitation tough to resist. The New York boy/girl duo specialize in lovesick fuzz-pop on their fantastic debut album Swear I'm Good At This. Guitar-toting firecracker Alex Luciano keeps tripping over her own reluctant sentimental streak in these sardonic modern-love vignettes - as she sings, "It's hard to be punk while wearing a skirt." Even when her melodies get sugary, Luciano never wusses out as she contemplates the anxieties of youth, the terror of adulthood and the ever-astonishing lameness of the male.
The snappy running time of Swear I'm Good at This means all 12 tracks breeze past in an instant, as if you're sprinting straight through the emotional core of vocalist Alex Luciano, grinning maniacally as you run. Since the release of the Over Easy EP back in 2014, Diet Cig's enduring blend of youthful fun and young defiance has given them an irresistible magnetism. Their debut record doubles down -- or triples, if we're talking about actual time -- on those sentiments and exposes a deeper level of honesty, although that same honesty might make it hard for anyone over a certain age to relate.
While judging things by their covers is generally agreed to be a bad thing, it's hard not to love an album called Swear I'm Good At This. This oh-so-very-long-awaited-I-can't-believe-it's-finally-here-heart-eyes-emoji debut album promises, with its title, the coupling of vulnerability, self-assurance and breezy humour that have become near synonymous with Diet Cig. But so long in the making has it been, that their sensibilities have had time to grow and evolve.
A line delivered late on Diet Cig's debut, Swear I'm Good at This, lays bare the dichotomy in singer-guitarist Alex Luciano's songwriting: "It's hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt. " It's one part personal struggle, one part irreverence; truth and self-awareness sitting side by side. That unique point of view runs throughout the dozen tracks that make up Swear I'm Good at This, a record rooted in DIY indie and punk that nevertheless transcends those worlds thanks to sharp writing and playing from Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman.
New York pop-punk pair Diet Cig's debut album Swear I'm Good At This lives up to the hype. With the duo having attracted a cultish show of attention despite previously only releasing a five-song EP and a 7" single in 2015, the record successfully transfers all the eagerness of their energetic live shows to portray punk with unusual tenderness. From the album's opening track, Sixteen, when vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano admits to an awkward adolescent encounter with an identically named guy in the back of a vehicle, it's clear that she is an honest and relatable songwriter.
Diet Cig's candidness is enthralling. Like their 2015 EP Over Easy, the New York duo's debut full-length album Swear I'm Good At This is loud, blunt, and totally fun. From the moment Alex Luciano turns to drummer Noah Bowman about a minute into the record and says, "ready?" the pair are off on a high-speed tour of self-doubt ("Blog Zombie"), autonomy ("Link in Bio," "Maid of the Mist"), being tender ("Apricots") and being tough ("Tummy Ache"), the good times ("Road Trip"), and the bad ("Sixteen").
If you like your production slick and with a kitchen sink slung into the mix, then this New York duo may not be for you. But if you're happy to embrace the ramshackle magic found in life's minutiae, Diet Cig have charm to spare. Confessional, witty, with a touch of The Vaselines, Swear I'm Good At This finds singer Alex Luciano magnifying small daily failures and turning them into works of art.
The origin story of Diet Cig centers around an interaction in which guitarist Alex Luciano interrupted drummer Noah Bowman during a show to ask for a lighter. This anecdote is an odd way to introduce your band. It suggests a double standard that it's okay for women to interrupt men while they're playing but you know if the tables were turned Twitter would be all up in arms.
Diet Cig is a young band in every sense of the word. The twenty-one-year-old singer/guitarist Alex Luciano hasn't been playing guitar with others all that long. The duo, which includes drummer Noah Bowman, has been around roughly three years. Over Easy, a five-track EP released in 2015, catapulted the band into the indie/emo zeitgeist making Swear I'm Good At This anxiously anticipated.