Rex Orange County made a name for himself in a liminal space. occupying the realms of alternative pop and also frequently delving into hip hop. He had huge success with singles such as Loving Is Easy and now he is releasing his fourth album Who Cares? We said to ourselves that we were going to see it again piece by piece to see if we really had to worry about this singer-songwriter.
keep it up
We are welcomed on this album by soft string sections. Then carried over to a chord section, it’s typical Rex Orange County with an emphasis on harmless, mellow melodies. Rex seems constantly confused, unsure of things, but remains determined to move on and through those more difficult ebbs and flows that life offers.
Open a Window (feat. Tyler, The Creator)
This isn’t the first time in his career that Rex has teamed up with Tyler, The Creator on this one. With strange deep vocals embedded in the track, we are drawn into a world of pure chamber pop. Here we still get the feeling that Rex is trying to figure things out, exploring the feeling of being metaphorically trapped.
Maybe this song doesn’t have the most intriguing chorus ever, but Tyler’s intro is a highlight, his iconic voice and ability to flow with just about any groove elevates the mood. song.
A track that takes a little while to get going, it shifts from strings to scattered percussion as we hear Rex banging on the love that’s worth it. Tonally, this track feels all over the place with the strings sounding almost like they should be on a retired daytime TV show. It’s a very strange mix that leaves you wondering what they wanted to do.
They obsess over including strings as often as possible, but they move to a really dynamic and brilliant beat. You end up listening to the instrumentals much more carefully than what Rex is actually saying. There is a magic shard effect inducing teeth grinding at some point.
one in a million
Rex Orange County is in love. Here he describes waking up with someone, spending so much time with them, and falling deep. Yet these anxieties remain. The one in a million shot isn’t done here with any particular nuance, so you can pretty much infer what it’s about from the title.
If you want it
The production is a bit confusing here, with sound that seems uncertain if it wants to be dark or beautiful and ends up being neither. It’s at this point that you realize how inefficient Rex’s songwriting is here, the love and anxiety topics are well covered and he can only deliver bland, general lyrics.
You can sense the album was produced with Benny Sings who worked with Rex on his hit song Loving Is Easy, there are a lot of similarities to be found here but the same magic hasn’t been conjured. Again, we’re sure Rex feels like he’s useless when it comes to love. At this point, man make up your mind.
Instantly settles into a truly addictive groove. The rhythm is quite immediate and is one of the strongest on the whole album. It puts you in that dreamland that reminds you of romantic teenage dreams. However, lyrically, the rest of the song is a little underserved.
One of the shortest efforts on Who Cares? he has very little time to really get anywhere as we retread through Rex being in love and feeling safe. It could have been easily cut, there’s nothing to remember in terms of hooks or memorable or quotable lyrics.
shoot me down
This album oscillated between being comfortably in love and feeling like he was about to lose his relationship from track to track at most points. Maybe there’s something to be said for his anxious, never-satisfied state of mind, feeling on shaky ground even when comfortable, but at this point it feels like a slightly irritating see-saw.
We do not care?
The big title track features a simplistic pop melody as Rex moans “who cares?” in a rather irritating moan. It’s an album that, honestly, just got gritty at this point. Rex’s soft boi aesthetic as an emotional songwriter struggling with relatable struggles hits no marks here.
In short, who cares? is a question that many remain with an answer. A shrug. Rex has made a career out of having an ear for melody and writing songs that speak to young people going through the ups and downs of growing up. On this album, Rex really has nothing to say, he is never satisfied even in his happiest moments and it gives the impression of being whiny, where no solution is provided, just wallowing in his feelings. It’s a frustrating listen.
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