Rex Orange County’s new album is a beacon of nostalgia and optimism

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British indie-pop singer Rex Orange County released his second studio album “Pony.” The album has a nostalgic, folky, and upbeat elements that is signature to the singer.  Photo courtesy of    Pitchfork.com

British indie-pop singer Rex Orange County released his second studio album “Pony.” The album has a nostalgic, folky, and upbeat elements that is signature to the singer. Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.com

Rex Orange County has recently released his sickly-sweet second studio album “Pony.”  The British indie-pop singer was thrown into the spotlight in 2018 after being featured on rapper Tyler, the Creator’s song “Boredom” and maintained that success with songs like “Sunflower.”  

On this album, Rex’s style is distinctively different while also being very similar to past projects. Rex keeps his trademark dreamy, old-school style while also playing on a childlike, nostalgic style.   

The songs mostly rely on instruments that preschoolers would use, including xylophones, maracas, tambourines, castanets and wood tone blocks. The songs also feature drum machine beats and synth sounds similar to the theme songs of eight-bit video games.  

The sound of the album can be best described as “Toy Story”-pop because of the nostalgic, folky and upbeat elements Rex relies on. This cheerful, campy and childlike sound subverts the overall themes of the album, which are growth and reflection. 

On songs like “10/10,” the first single from the album, Rex sings about making it through the year and making it this far in life. On “Never Had The Balls,” Rex sings similarly about redemption and takes a retrospective look on the past year and what could have gone differently while looking optimistically to the future. 

These saccharine messages of positivity are throughout the album on just about every song. However, there are some songs where Rex sings about low points from the past couple of years.  

“It’s hard to make yourself believe that it’ll get better when you feel defeated and carrying on is easier said than done,” he sings in the song “Always.”  

The snare-heavy, emotionally-explosive song, “Face To Face,” follows this same theme. On Instagram, Rex said this song was about “being away from home, feeling trapped in an undesirable situation and finding it difficult to trust people.” 

He also sings about the highs and lows of his relationship with his girlfriend of four years on songs like “Pluto Projector,” which was the second single from the album. It is a stand-out song on the album that is a great change of pace from the campy production.  

“I feel at home when I’m around you/and I’ll gladly say again/I hope the encore lasts forever,” he sings.  

“It Gets Better” goes more in-depth about his tumultuous relationship but ends on a high note as all the songs on the album do.  

“Even when my worst traits get in the way/You’re here to help me feel safe,” he sings. 

The song “Every Way” serves as a love letter to his girlfriend and has a distinctly different sound as well. The song is stripped back with just a piano and Rex’s soulful voice, which sounds like the perfect slow-dance song.  

Just like many artists that are plummeted quickly into the limelight, Rex also sings about the bittersweetness of fame. On “Stressed Out” he sings about people using him and finding out no one around him actually is there for him when he needs them most. 

“They wanna lie and still be friends/but when you’re at your worst, they’re not there,” he sings. 

The last song on the album, “It’s Not The Same Anymore” is also about dealing with fame, change and stress. This song wraps up the album in a neat little bow with Rex saying that though the things in his life are not the same, his life is better for it.  

Though positivity and optimism may be seen as a healthy perspective on life, they can be a little overkill in an album. Since these messages are constantly emphasized, they can seem repetitive and forced. Though the album may come off as overly positive to cynical listeners, the album is still an endearing showcase of the singer’s growth as a person and artist.   

Rating: 4/5 


Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gladi.suero@uconn.edu.

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