Dec 10, 2010 Web Exclusive
Let me just start by saying this: The debut album from Diamond Rings sounds like a synth-rock orgy between early-garage-über-experimental-Vince Clarke-Depeche Mode, glam-era Bowie and The Strokes. So it’s pretty sexy and I mean that in the most androgynous sense of the word, because that’s what John O’Regan (the man behind the Diamond Rings curtain), with his rainbow-colored eye makeup, his audacious costumes and his sexually indistinct on-stage persona, is going for. And he’s nailed it. For the better part of a year Diamond Rings has accosted the Internet with singles and videos including “Wait And See,” “Show Me Your Stuff,” and “All Yr Songs,” all of which have been critically acclaimed by pop snobs and fashion geeks alike. At last the full-length debut album, Special Affections, has been delivered and Diamond Rings has lived up to what is often career-ruining Internet hype.
10 tracks in all and just under 42 minutes, Special Affections is the sound of the 24-year-old O’Regan shedding his former skin and implementing his new guise. His dreary but addictive baritone sits way on top of the mix and it’s complimented by incredibly sparse and spacious arrangements; Diamond Rings’ showmanship might suggest glamour and excess, but the music is straightforward and succinct. “Play By Heart” is a delicious space-rock piano opener, which sets the stage for the already immensely popular and self-reflective “Wait and See.” The OMD-tinged “On Our Own” crescendos into one of the biggest choruses on the album and then comes “You & Me,” which, perhaps more than any other track, confirms O’Regan’s love for the ‘90s: Smash Mouth? Sugar Ray? Sure!
Special Affections is concise and self-assured, which is quite an accomplishment considering O’Regan is still pretty ambiguous and blurry himself. (www.myspace.com/diamondrings)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10