On first glance, it might be hard to take Toronto-based electro-pop musician Diamond Rings seriously. Festooned with glittering rainbow-hued eye shadow a la Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and outfitted in un-ironic post new wave ensembles, the first impression of this multi-instrumentalist’s overall aesthetic could easily feel like a premature electro-clash throwback.
That is until you hear the music.
Underneath the barrage of flash and pomp—and impossibly tight trousers— lies an astute and earnest songwriter who channels distinctly modern iterations of New Romantic electro-tinged balladry one moment then beat-laden introspective dirges that rival that of Brian Ferry’s world-weary decadence the next. With a point of view that’s both familiar and innovative, John O’Regan, the brainchild behind Diamond Rings, cleverly taps into a sonic realm that connects to the collective cultural unconscious while also playing into our own unique nostalgic sensibilities. The resulting sound is destined for playlists a’ plenty, thanks to catchy beats and double-take lyrics that you keep wanting to revisit.
On his infectious debut album Special Affections, John O’Regan’s throaty baritone vocals help to elevate a genre that can sometimes be too precious or too fey. Like a pleasing collision of thundering beats, slinky synth tones, and a touch of moody darkness, Special Affections takes the listener on an emotional journey that ebbs and flows like the musings of a mattress-stowed journal. With famous fans like pioneering riot grrl Kathleen Hanna, and an underground following that’s quickly growing, it’s only a matter of time before this glimmering up-and-comer garners mainstream fame.