Review: Rex Orange County Releases New Album “WHO CARES?” After Two Years of Silence
By: Gaby Maldonado
Alex O’Connor, famously known as Rex Orange County, is an accomplished singer/songwriter known for creating unique bedroom pop music that incorporates jazz, hip-hop, and indie influences. O’Connor gained popularity in 2016 when he released his first album, Bcos U Will Never B Free. The English singer quickly rose to fame, leading him to release his albums Apricot Princess in 2017 and Pony in 2019. On March 11, Rex Orange County shared his fourth album to the world titled WHO CARES? with songs that are filled with new beats and melodies that are different from his past projects.
The album opens with the track titled, “Keep It Up” that combines heartbreaking lyrics with an uplifting instrumental. The song transitions from an emotional orchestral introduction to a steady and fast paced melody that creates a catchy tune. Despite the song’s cheery rhythm, Rex takes a deeper approach by incorporating lyrics about self-doubt and self-acceptance. For example, in the first verse from the track, he sings, “Every time I open my mouth, I have regrets in my mind every time, and no one seems to figure me out.” Later in the chorus, he sings, “Keep it up and go on, you're only holding out for what you want, you no longer owe the strangers.” The overall message of the song is that you can overcome feeling out of place and you can find the strength to keep going and living. This theme continues to appear throughout the album in songs like “If You Want It” and “Worth It.”
My favorite track from the album is called “Shoot Me Down.” This song is so beautiful from the jazz-like instrumental in the beginning to Rex’s strong and raw riffs in the chorus. This track is his longest on the album by being 4 minutes and 52 seconds, the last minute being purely instrumentals. “Shoot Me Down” is about overcoming a breakup and feeling confident in yourself. This is definitely a song you can sing with great emotion if you are a Rex Orange County fan. Many people will enjoy this track because it is relatable and encourages determination and self-love. Another song I really enjoyed was “Open A Window” which features Tyler, The Creator. Rex and Tyler have collaborated in the past when Rex was featured on two songs from Tyler’s 2017 album, Flower Boy (“Foreword” and “Boredom”). I really enjoyed Tyler’s verse in the song and many fans were excited for another Rex and Tyler collaboration when the album was announced in January.
Although many of the songs are great, many also sound very repetitive, sharing remarkably similar rhythmic patterns and orchestral arrangements, which can make the album seem dull if you listen to it all at once. However, Rex still manages to create pleasant and catchy tunes that many would enjoy. There are many songs that I wished would have been slower to create more of a sad mood, like the song “7AM”. If this song had a slower tempo and sounded similar to “Pluto Projector” from him album Pony or the song “Untitled” from Apricot Princess, I believe “7AM” would have sounded perfect because it would have shown more emotion and felt more real to the listeners. Additionally, the album seemed to focus more on instrumentals rather than lyrics, and I wished Rex showcased his songwriting talent more.
On social media, many fans were sharing how they thought Rex’s new album would be filled with sad heartbreak songs due to him and his girlfriend, Thea Morgan-Murrell, breaking up after four years of being together. Still, many fans are happy with what Rex shared with his fans. Rex’s album Pony is still my favorite album of his, but WHO CARES? is still a great album to listen to. It is an album about self-love, overcoming insecurities, and pushing through the tough times.