By: Eric Freedlander –
Diamond Rings is the brainchild of Toronto indie guitarist Johnny O. His new album Free Dimensional, was supposed to be released on October 22, but a leak from the label led to early reviews. Whether you began listening to Diamond Rings in 2009 when he first began experimenting with his synth-based music, or have become a full-fledged fan after 2011’s Special Affections, chances are you’ll be a fan of Free Dimensional. In this new album, the glam-rock of years past is evident, but so are the new mixes that can be traced to legendary 1980s bands Duran-Duran or The Cure. In Free Dimensional, Johnny O goes back in time to fully mature with his newfound sonic boom.
The first track, “Everything Speaks,” is remindful of the early gothic tones The Cure were playing in the early 1980s with use of dark undertones and synthesizers that became evident throughout the song.
What begins as a gothic 80s pop album, slowly grows into the glamour rock that Diamond Rings became known for in the early days. Throughout “Runaway Love,” he goes back to his roots as an indie guitarist, playing a very engaging riff to begin the song. As soon as he begins to sing, you’re once again returned to the 1980s, as the Depeche Mode influences become more evident. The one song on the album to be considered a one hit wonder would be “Runaway Love”. It’s literally the perfect love song, as he talks about everything from commitment to being on your own, to rekindling the magic that made things exciting. In “Runaway Love” long time Diamond Rings fans, are reminded of who he used to be in indie rock group Matters, as the song is quite guitar centric in comparison to the rest of the album which tries to be more ambient and poppy.
The deeper you get into the album, the more the songs begin to overlap one another and start to become repetitive and dull. The overused and occasionally misplaced gothic piano solos and synthesizer riffs show that Diamond Rings tried to make a safer album then he should have. That is to say, it’s almost as though he and producer, Damian Taylor, underestimated his talents, and kept the sound simple. With Free Dimensional set to hit stores next week, fans looking for a nostalgic vibe will love this album. Johnny O shows us that in Diamond Rings the second time is the charm, as this is a strong follow up to Special Affections.
Essential Tracks: “Runaway Love,” “I’m Just Me,” “Stand My Ground.”