Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω
While there’s great music coming out of this country from coast to coast, Toronto is the centre of a variety of genres, including electro/synth-based pop. Right in the middle of this is Diamond Rings, cementing his presence with the catchy, ’80s-esque 10-song release, Free Dimensional.
Diamond Rings, a solo project by John O’Regan, formerly of the D’Ubervilles, pulls a lot of influence from David Bowie (especially aesthetically) and a variety of ’80s synthesizer-based pop such as A-Ha and the Eurythmics.
While the album starts out strong with the coolly confident “Everything Speaks,” upbeat and danceable “All The Time” and guitar-led “Runaway Love,” it flounders a bit with the down-tempo “Put Me On.”
The lead single and strongest track, “I’m Just Me,” resurrects Free Dimensional for a moment with a back and forth between stripped-down verses and an explosive chorus before the album slows from there.
If the synth pop of the first couple of tracks hadn’t fully won the listener over the second half will be lost, without much more exploration of the sound O’Regan has built. The sound stays generally light and doesn’t explore some of the darker areas the synth allows for. At times some free-style rapping livens up the course but it’s limited. On the upside, those looking for a modern Pet Shop Boys might appreciate it.
The album wraps up with a noteworthy track in “Day and Night” if only because it follows a much more modern sound, which seems reminiscent of late ’90s pop.
Lyrically, the album puts forth a strong, confident self from O’Regan, though ill-defined. This leaves it open for the listener to connect with what’s being said but it can get repetitive as the album goes on with not much explored, not dissimilar to the music.
While Free Dimensional is a trip into a style of music less common right now, it can grow tiresome. The first half is definitely worth a listen for those interested in the general electronic-based pop genres, it’s niche specific afterwards. That said, the single “I’m Just Me,” could carry Diamond Rings a distance and allow for follow-up work, which is deserved.