If the female lead in a Nickelodeon teen sitcom grew to her early to mid-twenties, moved to a hip section of New York, and starting writing songs about dating and living in the Big City, she might sound something like Alex Luciano, the lead singer and guitarist with Diet Cig. That's not an insult. Luciano has a knack for sounding bright, bouncy, and upbeat while she's justifiably pissed off at the men in her life, and she's confident and capable even as she's pondering self-doubt and thinking out loud about why stuff goes wrong in her life. Carly Shea and/or Tori Vega probably wouldn't have a band as good as Diet Cig, though. Diet Cig's second full-length effort, 2020's Do You Wonder About Me?, is an engaging bit of indie pop just on the border of pop-punk that's abundantly catchy and fun to listen to despite the emotional ups and downs of Luciano and her characters. Noah Bowman, Diet Cig's drummer and Luciano's songwriting partner, puts enough gravity behind the performances that they genuinely rock, so even the gritty "Broken Body" and "Flash Flood" have a pogo-friendly energy, while the introspection of "Worth the Wait" is relatable without sinking into its own angst, and "Night Terrors (Reprise)" does a remarkable job of finding the middle ground between passion and doubt. Luciano is a performer with a knack for making her emotions recognizable without overselling her delivery, and with Bowman (and bassist Jamal Ruhe) joining her, she convinces us that she's the 2020 version of the girl next door whose essential niceness doesn't mean she's dumb, unquestioning, or willing to be anyone's fool. Do You Wonder About Me? is superior ear candy that won't hurt your intellectual teeth, and a more than worthy follow-up to 2017's fine Swear I'm Good at This.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming