Do You Wonder About Me?   — Diet Cig (review)

What young band doesn’t quake at a salty Pitchfork review? Diet Cig were dealt one back in 2017, when their debut Swear I’m Good At This took a hammering. Too flimsy and too lacking in “transformative salvation”, they were told. Picture bringing that report home to your parents.

Fast-forward three years, and Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman have survived to put out a sophomore effort. Do You Wonder About Me? is an endorphin-heavy pop-punk record crammed with catchy hooks and melodrama – if not literal salvation.

Luciano’s choruses are shrill but cathartic, fizzing with angst. Night Terrors airily warns potential bedfellows they might get killed if she has a bad dream. Priority Mail is a wispy elegy about the transition from soulmate to sometime penpal. Broken Body seems oddly clairvoyant, railing against cabin fever and being stuck in the house for weeks on end.

That’s not to absolve this band of being a strung-out Livejournal entry. Luciano is forever antagonising exes for antagonising her, and her songwriting is regularly one long hall of mirrors in which she’s straining for epiphanies only to arrive, time and time again, at her own reflection. The songs can buckle beneath all that self-mythologising.

Gone are the rotting apricots of the last record, the birthday cakes and disastrous barbecues. Where once Luciano lampooned her romantic encounters by fantasising over séances filled with tetchy hearts she’s broken, or the weirdness of sleeping with someone who shares her name, this time she keeps things vague, fishing constantly for apologies without ever explaining how she’s been wronged. The lyrics are so light on detail, you’ll wish the album came with a director’s cut and full commentary.

For all that, Do You Wonder About Me? could still end up being the sugary pop-punk you stick on repeat this summer. File with Tancred and Candy Hearts. And your diary from 2003.

2020. Also appeared on Getintothis.