Rex Orange County - 'Pony' Album Review
At only 21 years of age, Alexander O’Conner better known as Rex Orange County has sold out shows across the globe, played some of the world’s biggest festivals, collaborated with Tyler, The Creator and Randy Newman, and has now released 3 full length albums. But despite these achievements and Rex’s explosion to bedroom hip hop stardom, the 21 year old’s latest album Pony paints a very honest and relatable picture of how it feels to be caught up in life and even when it seems everything has come together, losing your way and getting your heart bruised is never far round the corner.
The opener ‘10/10’ was released a while before the rest of the album and seemed to divide opinion between Rex fans. It’s a lively electro-bop track unlike that of what has been previously seen in his jazzy bedroom hip hop discography, but the track flows effortlessly between verse and chorus, Rex delivers in his typical poetic manner and effectively depicts the challenges, solutions and subsequent injection of optimism he has experienced over the past year. This new electro style instrumental isn’t hugely common throughout the rest of the album but is apparent enough in tracks such as ‘10/10’ and ‘Never Had The Balls’ to show Rex's versatility having seen two albums already that have been heavily jazz and hip hop influenced.
As for the rest of the album it’s pretty typical Rex Orange County. The instrumentals compliment the lyrical content and delivery incredibly well, from stripped back piano ballads to swooning orchestral sections the listener’s heart will fill with joy at times, but also fall and ache as Rex’s clearly has over the past year, as his life has changed drastically due to the challenges of fame and life as one of the brightest prospects in the UK hip hop and singer songwriting scenes. Change is a recurring theme in this project but is depicted well in the track ‘Always’, Rex croons soulfully about accepting his new life over a bittersweet jazz flavoured instrumental, it’s by far one of the best tracks on the album and despite its tone has quite an anthemic feel.
The only criticism is that Rex does tend to wallow in his emotions quite a lot which does lead to quite melodramatic and on the nose lyrics. He wears his heart on his sleeve which is highly commendable but it would be nice to try and tear the lyrics apart and interpret them for yourself rather than Rex saying that he’s ‘sad’ or ‘finding things hard’ in various ways. This criticism isn’t specific to ‘Pony’ but to Rex’s approach in general but it certainly is apparent in this project. Luckily the instrumentals on this are beautiful and capable of adding the much needed second dimension to Rex’s lyrics. His effortless and soulful vocal style isn’t to everyone’s taste but remains consistent and will be welcome to the growing number of fans falling for a bedroom star who’s far outgrown his walls in sound and stature.
Check out the album below: