As the lead singer of the D’Urbervilles, John O’Regan rocked out to the band’s punk-rock sound. As Diamond Rings however, his solo act, O’Regan puts on rainbow eye makeup and slips on zebra-printed leggings to embrace his ‘80s synth pop self. So does the jump work? Yes indeed. His debut album is fun, fresh and full of catchy beats.
If we were to do the whole in-comparison-to-other-artists thing, his distinctive deep voice is reminiscent of Ian Curtis’ or Ian McCulloch’s, and his branch of snappy electro pop is like a cheerier La Roux. His music is based on drum beats and synths, but Diamond Rings manages to keep things interesting by adding in driving guitar riffs in “Something Else” and keyboard melodies in “Play By Heart” for flavour. He also keeps things fun, and he is at his poppy best in “All Yr Songs.”
The album, aptly named Special Affections, is lyrically like the diary of the heart: singing about getting weak at the knees, dreams of escaping elsewhere with the significant other and feeling unsure about whether to love or not. “It’s Not My Party,” a standout tune, sounds like it belongs to a John Hughes movie soundtrack. It has the ‘80s synths sweeping throughout and the confused teenaged feelings of “falling in and out of love.” It’s cute, and these sweet affections aren’t what you would expect to come out of Diamond Rings’ strong, booming voice, but the juxtaposition works, and combined with the fact that he wrote all the songs himself gives the record a sense of charm and honesty.