Diet Cig's 2015's "Over Easy" EP was a rip-roaring, rough-and-ready, lo-fi, five-song strop. Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman's fizzy punk-pop also had a chunky, sh*t-kicking bolshiness, born of the carefree joy of being in a new band, making new music. Two years on and the graduation to their first album, "Swear I'm Good At This", has not necessarily come with the step-up that we might have expected. Now that people are definitely listening, they're a bit self-aware, sounding more like your uptight, over-thinking, over-sharing friend, manifesting haphazard adulting, rather than youthful defiance.
Lyrically, it's in keeping with the 'diet' element of their band name, supplying low-calorie feminism - simple but essential reminders of how women must value themselves and men must exercise common decency. It's entry-level 'disrespect nobody' and 'no gender double-standards' philosophy - the sort of attitudes you'd want your daughter/sister/partner/mother to exemplify through life, expressed through frequently ham-fisted soundbites that you can latch on to, and then extrapolate the meaningful stuff yourself. Riotous grrlhood growls most strongly from synth-enriched "Maid of the Mist" - Alex declaring, 'I'm bigger than the outside shell of my body/ And if you touch it without asking, then you'll be sorry.' Their most notable recent feminist act comes not on this record, but in their vociferous support of the Girls Rock summer camps, especially their decision to invite some of the up-and-coming bands from those camps to support them on tour.
Early-twenties existentialism, lust and hormonal awkwardness also get an outing. "Apricots" is a wonky, minute-long acoustic analogy between over-buying fruit (that goes mouldy) and over-pitching romantic ambitions (that also turn to sh*t). A new crush is believably evoked in "Leo" with 'What's your sign?/ I wanna analyse your eyes and what's inside,/ Make it mine.' In "Sixteen", we are led briefly through the unlikely but cringey perils of having the same unisex name as your boyfriend and screaming it off-puttingly during already-shambling teenage coitus. A lonely 21st birthday, hopelessly wishing for ice cream and candles 'to wish all of the pain away' dominates "Barf Day".
"Blob Zombie" presents the phrase used as the album title, but it arrives in a troublesome context. We must believe that the speaker is "good" without any proof offered - whilst the speaker stays in bed. Closer, "Tummy Ache" is the album's pinnacle. "I don't need a man to hold my hand/ And that's just something you'll never understand" layers in insistence with each repetition and in intensity with Alex's surging guitar and Noah's rumbling drums. It does sum up the album's specific drawbacks, however, with "Finally it's time to make my words count,/ In a way I haven't quite figured out."
Take a look back at October's inaugural event.
The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.