“My stomach hurts/And it’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt.”
Alex Luciano laments this during the closing track of Diet Cig’s debut full length album, Swear I’m Good at This, released last Friday, the petite pop-punk powerhouse not shying away from her inner struggle to embrace sensitivity and femininity — traits that remain difficult to come by in that particular genre. Presented with sweet, whimsical melodies, the overarching critique is fitting for a counterculture community that still struggles to put a woman on a tour bill.
And while Diet Cig is far from the first to tackle the topic, the duo’s approach, uncompromising and direct yet true to its twee, saccharine sound, is unique. It is music that, lyrical significance aside, makes you want to get up and dance like nobody is watching.
In “Barf Day,” the duo succinctly packages the turmoil of being a twentysomething and desire for reprieve with the chorus, “I just wanna have ice cream on my birthday/Blow the candles out and wish all of my pain away.” We hear the weaving of frustration with pure pop once again with “Link in Bio.” Lighthearted yet raucous, the track borrows Fiona Apple’s “take no shit” attitude from “Sleep To Dream.” When Apple sings, “Don’t make a big deal/Don’t be so sensitive,” Luciano echoes, “I’m not being dramatic/I’ve just fucking had it.”
It’s not easy to make an original album about a frequently revisited topic. On Swear I’m Good at This, Diet Cig not only provides a fresh voice and approach to music that stands for something, but easily places vocalist Luciano in the ranks of punk’s loudest, most unapologetic and important voices (even if she is “surrounded by all boys”).