Sweet and Earnest
It kind of goes without saying, but Over Easy, the debut EP from New York’s Diet Cig, is the best Best Coast album to come out in years. To the unassuming listener, this is Bethany Cosentino rejuvenated with all the exuberant ambivalence of her first albums. It’s refreshing to hear, but it’s not particularly original. Diet Cig is earnest, youthful and most of all, fun. But this is well worn territory, and Diet Cig are not the best (nor are they worst, they’re just good) practitioners of the sound.
The exceedingly brief EP (5 songs clocking in at almost exactly 10 minutes) begins with “Breathless” — a tune propelled by jangle guitars and that same pop-punk energy that permeated much of the music of the early 2000s and late 90s. The song, about domestic ineptitude follows much the same structure as the rest of the songs on the album — slightly raucous first half, quiet bridge, louder chorus, end. Alex Luciano sings, there’s “not even a shower curtain in my shower” and seems to take a lethargic delight in the line, “I don’t have any kitchenware, but I can walk around in my underwear”. There’s nothing wrong with the structure, and due to the brevity of the EP it never gets tired, but it does prompt one to wonder what a full length album would sound like.
The Best Coast comparison is obvious, but another comparison worth making is to Alvvays, whose wonderful self titled debut came out just last year. It’s worth mentioning only because Alvvays seems to be the natural progression for a band like Diet Cig. “Scene Sick” sounds as if it’s straight off of Alvvays and shows what Diet Cig is capable of. It features Luciano’s vocals more than any other track and also relies less on frenetic energy than the rest of the album. Instead, it uses funny, biting lyrics and impeccable delivery to create the fun — a far more difficult achievement.
It’ll be interesting to hear what direction Diet Cig goes in for their debut LP. They could stay sweet and endearing, or amp up the edge, like they do with the fuzzed out, yelled vocal line in the chorus of “Cardboard”; or in the strong, confident and spiteful vocal delivery in “Harvard”, undoubtedly the best song on the album. In the meantime, pop this album on for a nice 10 minute escape from cynicism and irony (much needed in their own right, but it can get a bit exhausting) and then stick it in a pocket while waiting for spring — this album needs the warm weather and an open car window.