By INDIA KRUG – The arrival of Pony, the highly anticipated third album by Alex O’Connor, stage-name Rex Orange County, has sparked conversation throughout his fan base.
What makes so many fall in love with Rex is his authenticity, and this album is not lacking. His personal lyrics draw listeners in, allowing them to hear his internal thoughts put to music.
Senior John Gunter shares, “I think he has a passion for making and creating music that’s just simply hard to come by in today’s music scene. You can listen to his stuff and say ‘yeah, he actually cares’ and that’s just honestly more refreshing than people think.”
In his debut album, Bcos U Will Never B Free (2015), Alex perfectly encapsulated the angst and earnestness of youth. Apricot Princess (2017) is composed of the same rosy, soul-touching songs that can be found in albums like The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. It leaves listeners feeling sentimental and warm.
His newest album, Pony, released on October 25, 2019, is the product of a fully realized artistic vision.
What I admire about Rex’s musical career thus far is that his albums are like time capsules. He has matured, and his sound likewise. Pony speaks to the growing pains that all young adults experience. It contains adult themes of trust issues, comfort zones, and change, all approached from an endearingly boyish perspective.
Yet, some listeners do not find Pony as familiar as his past works. Senior Lauren Sauer states, “It just feels like he’s kind of going for a more mainstream sound now which isn’t really my thing, my favorite album of his is Apricot Princess.”
The album begins with “10/10,” possibly the most dance-able single he has released, which bluntly, yet beautifully, discusses self-improvement. “‘Cause, after all, I guess it all depends upon / The people you choose and where you’re from”
Another personal favorite is “It Gets Better.” “It Gets Better” asks the question: is it possible to evolve at the same time as the person you love? And if not, can the adoration survive despite the tribulations both are forced to overcome at different rates? Alex says yes. The song begins with a lively synthesizer riff and slowly builds to an eruption of ’60s, Frankie Valli-esque orchestral sound.
Senior Amelia Kuzneski comments, “I think it definitely evokes a different emotion from his last album, Apricot Princess, but nonetheless has that charm that he manages to bring to every song he writes.”
Just as a painter’s signature is the same on all of their works even if their style has changed, Pony is still clearly a “Rex” album. It is a testament to his musicianship that he is able to maintain this genuine connection with his audience while transitioning components of his soundscape.
His eclectic nature is part of his appeal as an artist and as his discography continues to expand, I expect to see more journeys into uncharted territory.
[Photo by India Krug]
Photo Caption: “Senior Nathan Birch listens to the new Rex Orange County album.”
India is a senior and joined The High Arrow because journalism matters. Since joining the staff three years ago, she has written many articles, including opinions, has made a lot of friends, and has grown to adore Bob Woodward.