Diamond Rings, ‘Special Affections’ (Astralwerks)
Late last decade, John O’Regan fronted brash Toronto rockers the D’Urbervilles, but after being hospitalized with Crohn’s disease, the singer reinvented himself as synth-popper Diamond Rings. The result of this self-therapy is a classic post-traumatic-stress album that masks its who-am-I-now? introspection with garish hooks and blunt beats. Pitting his manly baritone against squishy feminine keys in the sexually ambiguous ’80s tradition, O’Regan gives his transformation a thrilling edge, not least because there’s real danger involved. He may never be the man he once was, and his fabulously imagined future remains uncertain.