Coming off of a successful debut album brings a lot of added pressure and attention towards your next effort. Luckily for us, Diet Cig are well up to the task at hand as they pick up right where they left off on Swear I’m Good At This with some more self-described “slop pop” here on Do You Wonder About Me? When I last spoke with guitarist/vocalist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman in regards to what they had in mind for their next album, their optimism infectiously carried over into the recording process for this record. The dynamic duo of Luciano and Bowman has crafted a satisfying sophomore album that expands upon the ideas introduced on their debut, and they fully realize their potential as artists on this LP.
In the album opener, “Thriving,” Luciano carefully opens up about her state of mind in a relationship as she sings, “I’ve been holding my breath / For way too long on this one / And I don’t know how long I can keep this up / I’ll play the same songs over and over / Convince myself I’m grown, I’m older / And I just want you to know that / I’m thriving thanks for asking.” This cautious admission comes across honestly from the charismatic front-woman, and it’s easy to believe her as the record unfolds.
“Who Are You” starts with some handclaps as Luciano sings confidently over the beat. As the song unravels, she provides some more insight on a relationship that has turned sour as she admits, “I haven’t talked to you in months / I thought we had both just moved on / Well, I have a question / Is this just self-preservation? / So you can keep your reputation clean with everyone involved / But you never fooled them all / I don’t know if they’ll ever trust you again / After what you did.” It becomes even more apparent that she has lost faith in this person and doesn’t feel like she can ever confide in them again.
The first single that was released from the album, “Night Terrors,” Luciano described in an interview as “centered around my very real and frequent experiences with night terrors and other bizarre sleep activity.” The song casually strums along with some darker themed lyrics, but Luciano’s sweet as sugar voice keeps it from straying too far into the depths of no return.
Other tracks such as “Broken Body” highlight Luciano’s internal struggles as she sings, “I can’t even walk one fucking block from my house / I’m missing all the things that made me feel alive / I wanna die / I’ve been cooped up inside / I can’t remember the last time / I felt good inside my head.” Her stunning admission of all not being well with her is instantly relatable, and her vulnerability comes across as genuine.
Things pick up speed on their most highly-charged song to date on “Flash Flood.” The opening drum fill from Bowman allows for the song to start on the right foot and is a welcomed departure from the other songs on Do You Wonder About Me? While the majority of the material on the album hones in on the soft/loud dynamic that Diet Cig does so well, this song is a blast of punk rock energy that is sure to be a hit segment in their live shows.
“Worth the Wait” and “Stare into the Sun” are fairly similar in their song structures, but the latter track has some more redeeming qualities to it as the melodies are stronger and shine brighter. Luciano even admits to the person in this relationship, “And if you call me up / Then I will come over / But I promise / I won’t be sober.” I’m sure we’ve all been in those type of one-sided relationships where it seems like one person is giving more of themselves than the other, and it can be pretty heartbreaking to live through it, hoping it improves.
The album ends with “Night Terrors (Reprise)” that includes some vocal effects and programmed sounds backing Luciano’s vocals as the song eventually trails off. The most redeeming parts of this album are Luciano’s improved lyrics, Bowman’s confident drumming, and the mixture of feelings and moods brought forth into the fold. Diet Cig continues to improve as artists, musicians, and songwriters on their sophomore album that has a lot going for it.