Growing up and changing is just a normal part of living. Trying to rectify who’ve you been with you are or, more importantly, who you want to become is something that everyone with a modicum of self awareness goes through. Unfortunately this process never really ends but with time and experience it can get easier. Diet Cig members Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman were thrust into the life they find themselves currently living when the pair met at a house show and decided to start a band together. The gutsy, rollicking pop rock duo spent much of that first year of their existence on the road working on the songs that would make up their debut Swear I’m Good At This. When it came time to start working on a follow up Luciano and Bowman went from their hometown of New Platz, New York to Richmond, Virginia to hole up and explore where they’ve come from and where they want to go with their songwriting. Having the time and space to be able to really dive into the process was a freeing one for the band and one that is readily apparent on their wonderful new record Do You Wonder About Me?. Without having to worry about tailoring their songs for a strictly live setting, Diet Cig have made a shimmering album that feels open, dynamic and more free than the band has previously sounded. It’s also more thoughtful. A collection of songs that deal with the process of figuring out how to acknowledge your past self, the act of forgiving that self and, ultimately, the transition into the person you want to be.
Do You Wonder About Me? kicks off with “Thriving” with the title of the record the first words out of Luciano’s crisp and harmonious vocals. Both members of the band are wonderful players. Luciano’s voice is at once luminous, confident and yearning. Bowman is a great drummer, creative and driving. This combination gelling perfectly together into one cohesive unit. Think a more raucous that dog instead of a heavier Mates Of State. The song’s arrangement pulls and pushes and is a perfect start to the album’s journey. “Who Are You?” starts with handclaps and a classic Luciano ear worm of a vocal melody. When the full band kicks in, it’s pop perfection. “Night Terrors” details Luciano’s very real struggle with night terrors and it highlights the thesis of the album. As she explains her situation and how it has affected her entire life, set to a backdrop of rollicking toms and chiming guitars, you hear the sincerity in her voice of her trying to deal with this and through that how she can hopefully change. “Priority Mail” is a simple piano driven number that clocks in at just under a minute but while this interstitial moment on the album is on the sweet side, it is directly contradicted by it’s counterpart “Flash Flood” on the second half of the record which is all raw emotion and super charged playing.
Diet Cig have taken their time on Do You Wonder About Me?. The space they’ve allowed themselves to craft an album of so many delights and honest to goodness thought provoking revelations about self is something that should be applauded. “Worth The Wait” shows Luciano growing into someone who can’t believe that she could be a more confident, carefree person and that thought seems to permeate every aspect of the record. It is a more mature but never static or boring version of the band. One that has allowed some growth without sacrificing the special thing the pair brings to these songs. This type of self awareness is something we can all hope Diet Cig continues to carry with themselves as long as they are making music because hearing their growth, their transition from who they have been to what they are becoming is one that can be inspiration to us all.
review by Adam Fink
Do You Wonder About Me? by Diet Cig is available via Frenchkiss Records