Critiques CD: Diamond Rings | Free Dimensional
Ferocious frontman John O’Regan, better known by his more glam-sounding moniker Diamond Rings, is the flamboyant Toronto native with cool baritone pipes, infectious new wave-indebted melodies, fierce rainbow facepaint and a pompadour that instantly commands respect. His standout debut Special Affections won him all kinds of indie praise, made possible a series of tour dates with Robyn, Twin Shadow and Junior Boys, and paved the way for Free Dimensional, his major label (EMI) sophomore release. Unfortunately, the bigger production values stifle a lot of what makes the artist so unique and endearing – his DIY approach to lo-fi electro-pop with a rough ‘80s aesthetic. Co-produced by Montreal’s Damian Taylor and now backed by a full band (including Miracle Fortress’ Graham Van Pelt), the charmingly makeshift glam-rock performer appears to have channeled a little too much Adam Lambert… And on more than one occasion (most disappointingly in “Day & Night”), he incorporates very awkward and ill-fitting rap verses. Same applies to his music videos, with his latest, an overly slick smoke-and-lasers package for “I’m Just Me”, doing away with Diamond Rings’ key rough-around-the-edges appeal. That’s not to say the album is completely devoid of interest, as O’Regan proves that for all his misplaced ambition and well-intentioned glitz, he can still craft standout melodies full of sweet, synthesized innocence (“Put Me On”, “Runaway Love”). But electro-pop stars are a dime a dozen these days; where’s our diamond in the rough?