Swear I’m Good At This
It was early in the afternoon on a Saturday in March, 2016. Myself and a couple hundred other SXSW-goers were packed into a Brooklyn Vegan day-party when, in a rare moment of on-stage stillness, Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano introduced a new song, ‘Sixteen.’ Over long-sustained open chords, Luciano recounted a story of awkward teenage physical intimacy with a boy who was also named Alex.
“It was weird in the back of his truck…moaning my own name, while trying to fuck.”
From there, Luciano developed a narrative about growing up and growing aware of the dissonance between the place and people that surrounded you in adolescence and the independent person that you’re becoming. Behind her, Noah Bowman continuously built and broke the tempo of the song with crashing cymbals and dragging bass kicks.
This song would go on to become the opening track on Diet Cig’s debut full-length album, ‘Swear I’m Good At This.’ ‘Sixteen’ sets the tone for the 11 tracks that follow: pop-punk guitar riffs coupled with driving drum fills, confessions of loneliness and vulnerability next to proclamations of resilience. While retaining the energetic and danceable tempos of their previous releases (‘Over Easy EP’ and Sleep ‘Talk/Dinner Date’), ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ ventures into new instrumental territory for the duo. Synth hooks that feel straight out of a 90s video game brighten the tone on ‘Maid of the Mist.’ At the heart of the album lies ‘Apricots,’ which clocks in at just over a minute and serves as a lo-fi acoustic interlude.
But the album is full of upbeat bangers that manage to still feel extremely tender. While there are lyrical refrains throughout that are exude strife and discontent from their pores, at the core of each track is an expression of self awareness or cultural examination. Never before has it been so easy to dance to music about isolation and breaking down societal gender-based barriers. Nodding your head along to the twelve songs on ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ it feels okay to be a little lonely or sad, and certainly to be scared or angry. Luciano and Bowman create a safe-space in the music they make, a gift that is all too valuable to their listeners.
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