Album Review


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Diamond Rings: Special Affections
Diamond Rings
Special Affections
4 out of 5

star4-0

That glitzed-out figure with rainbow eyeliner you see on the cover of Special Affections isn't some glossy disco-mag cutout or family-album relic; that's John O'Regan as Diamond Rings, and as his attire suggests, he's in the ancient business of avatar rock, creating a distant alter ego out of which his music flows. But Special Affections is at least crafted on a personal level; like many of O'Regan's peers, it sounds like he made most of these songs sitting in his bedroom. The record plays like a low-rent version of Marc Bolan's The Slider or David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, reworking grand, organic melodies with unassuming warmth—with maybe an added dash of disco.

But that comparison is more style than substance. While O'Regan carries himself with the same star-child flashiness those two artists patented, his scrappy, high-spirited songwriting combines crunchy, '70s guitar-rock with the hazy euphoria of modern acts like Sun Airway and Twin Shadow—a retro-futuristic musical braid that's hard to nail down. And O'Regan's voice is the centerpiece. Unlike seemingly every other bedroom music maker these days, there's a real power and discernable confidence to his croon.

The songs here were written with an audience in mind, coming together as unlikely anthems. "On Our Own," for example, has a lover's hook so sugary sweet it rivals a universe's worth of pop in terms of addiction. O'Regan might not subscribe to the same bludgeoning anthems of a bygone era in which rock stars were heroes who led youth in an amorous, if ill-defined, conquest of drugs, sex, and music, but the very concept of his persona is one of pure romanticism. We need more like him.

But that comparison is more style than substance. While O'Regan carries himself with the same star-child flashiness those two artists patented, his scrappy, high-spirited songwriting combines crunchy, '70s guitar-rock with the hazy euphoria of modern acts like Sun Airway and Twin Shadow—a retro-futuristic musical braid that's hard to nail down. And O'Regan's voice is the centerpiece. Unlike seemingly every other bedroom music maker these days, there's a real power and discernable confidence to his croon.

The songs here were written with an audience in mind, coming together as unlikely anthems. "On Our Own," for example, has a lover's hook so sugary sweet it rivals a universe's worth of pop in terms of addiction. O'Regan might not subscribe to the same bludgeoning anthems of a bygone era in which rock stars were heroes who led youth in an amorous, if ill-defined, conquest of drugs, sex, and music, but the very concept of his persona is one of pure romanticism. We need more like him.

Label: Secret City Release date: October 25, 2010

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