“I don’t want to make you feel nostalgic for something that never happened,” sings Alex Luciano on ‘I Don’t Know Her’, the penultimate track on Diet Cig’s debut LP. It’s an interesting sentiment, especially taking into account the ability of Swear I’m Good At This to make you feel just that.
Rather than making her listeners pine for romances that never were however, Luciano delicately transforms the everyday into the idealistic; mundane exercises such as buying hotdogs at a supermarket blossom in to rose-tinted vignettes, invoking feelings of nostalgia towards places we’ve never been and situations we’ll never find ourselves in.
Far from being a record overwrought with sentimentality however, Swear I’m Good At This is a bold, and brash statement. The likes of ‘Link In Bio’ or ‘Maid of the Mist’ offer a massive middle finger to preconceived notions of femininity, a recurrent and important message, but not one the record ever feels bogged down by.
Though the idea of strength and independence is something at the heart of the album, there’s a certain degree of fragility and openness about the record too, creating a dichotomy that’s both welcoming and believable. ‘Apricots’ is softly strummed and delivered barely above a whisper, offering a glimpse of vulnerability that’s as fleeting as the track’s 64 second run time. Elsewhere, the aforementioned ‘I Don’t Know Her’ is a poppy frothy romp that finds Luciano at arguably her most sincere, but also her most fragile.
This dichotomy of autonomy and vulnerability might well be where Diet Cig’s inherent appeal stems from, but you can guarantee that however delicate or sentimental they might appear, it’s vulnerability on their own terms. It’s this idea that forms the very core of Swear I’m Good At This, and indeed Diet Cig themselves. The idea that it’s fine to be whoever you are, as long as you’re not an arsehole. And if you can deliver that message with a debut album that’s even half as sure of itself as this is, you’re on to a winner.