Independent
journalism that swims
against the current.
Arts and Culture
Music

Diamond Rings Goes Glossy

Humble charmer 'Free Dimensional' increases the budget.

Alex Hudson 15 Nov 2012TheTyee.ca

Alex Hudson writes for various music publications and runs a blog called Chipped Hip.

image atom
"Why don't you come here and tell me I've lost the raw sweetness?"

A big part of what made Diamond Rings' debut album, 2010's Special Affections, so endearing was its homespun charm. Torontonian John O'Regan's guitars were gritty and his beats cheap, and the humble production made his hooky love songs all the more intimate. Combine that with some glittery makeup and a charmingly corny music video, and the guy was practically irresistible.

Although his newly released follow-up, Free Dimensional, isn't a major departure in terms of songwriting style, the fidelity of this sophomore disc far outstrips that of its predecessor. The beats hit harder and the glossy synths sound like they were expertly crafted in a studio rather than programmed on a laptop. During live shows, the songwriter is now accompanied by a full band instead of backing tracks.

Despite the sonic richness, this isn't necessarily a flattering change; although catchy thumpers like "I'm Just Me" and "(I Know) What I'm Made Of" will undoubtedly sound great when you're grinding up against a stranger in a club, they lack the raw sweetness of O'Regan's best work.

Just as significantly, the newfound focus on sparkling synth-pop means that Free Dimensional is largely lacking the guitar-driven rockers that were previously Diamond Rings' bread and butter. Only the triumphant "Runaway Love" fits the bill here, and not coincidentally, it's easily the standout song of the bunch.

Despite its flaws, Free Dimensional is a relative success; none of the songs fall entirely flat and all contain memorable melodies, while "Hand Over My Heart" and "Stand My Ground" both boast some truly gorgeous retro synth tones. If O'Regan can find a way to marry his big-budget production with the heartfelt tenderness of his past material, there will be no stopping him.

For now, Vancouver fans can catch him live at Fortune Sound Club on Nov. 17 for some of that aforementioned grinding up against a stranger.  [Tyee]

Read more: Music

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.

Do:

  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

What Environmental Impacts Are Most Concerning to You This Summer?

Take this week's poll