The Rise of New Age Alternative: A Review of Rex Orange County’s Pony (2019)

Photo Credits: Rex Orange County

In reference to the first song on the album, “[he] did it again”. Alexander O’Connor, known by his stage name Rex Orange County, just released his third album Pony (2019). The English recording artist and songwriter had previously released two albums, Bcos U Will Never B Free (2016)  and Apricot Princess (2017), along with his hit singles Loving is Easy (2017) and Best Friend (2017). The artist initially rose to fame in 2016, after his first album caught the attention of rapper Tyler the Creator, who invited him to collaborate on Flower Boy (2017). Since then, Rex Orange County has risen in the alternative music charts, with his whimsical, poetic lyrics and unique use of instrumental tracks. 

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It is no surprise that Pony exhibits the same, brilliant characteristics the artist has demonstrated in the past. However, while Rex has always been a brilliant lyricist, his attention to instrumental inclusion and the overall sound of each track is beyond his past work. This is most prevalent in “Laser Lights,” the third track on the album, which features interludes from a jazz band. It gives the song an upbeat and soulful touch, showing the tracks emotions about the artist’s personal struggles, through both music and lyrics. At the same time, much of the album stays in touch with Rex’s past work, specifically with electronic backtracks and hints of guitar and bass. 

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The main triumph of the album, however, is Rex’s brilliant lyrics that are a true display of his talent. Hidden underneath poetic stanzas, Rex addresses struggles faced by himself and the whole population. He aims to address unspoken topics in an upbeat, subtle nature. In “Stressed Out”, the fifth track, the artists sings about his experience with fame and his struggles in letting people take advantage of him. He delivers a chilling song, mixed with emotions of defeat and the struggle to cope with the pressure of those on top of him. On the other hand, Rex delivers songs that comedically frame his issues, causing listeners to smile or laugh. Please, who wouldn’t laugh if you saw a song titled “Never Had The Balls” pop up on your queue? The song, which is the 6th track, deals with the innate fear of being rejected, as Rex mocks himself for not being able to get over his fears. Additionally, one of the most powerful songs is the first track “10/10”, in which the artists addresses feelings of imperfection and the struggle to be perfect. It speaks to a population of people who hold back in fear of imperfection, along with addressing the impossibility of the aspiration. Similar messages are also emphasized in the last track “It’s Not the Same”. Here, the artist addresses the idea of growing up and how his current position in life was completely unexpected and different from where he was. 

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Personally, my favorite track on the album is “Every Way”. While short, in both runtime and lyrics, it is a beautiful declaration of love and the honesty of emotions. The lyrics speak about how relationships are a series of spontaneous and unexpected ups and downs. But, regardless, those experiences bring two people closer together, teaching them to care for one another in every single way. It is a quiet, but moving song, framing the reality of love. 

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As a whole, regardless of his struggles, Rex demonstrates his talent and love for music, throughout the album. It sings messages of love and passion, dismissing the darkness one might face. It is absolutely worth a listen, that will instantly leave you awaiting the next album.

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