Rex Orange County - “WHO CARES?” Album Review
British singer and songwriter Alexander James O’Connor, A.K.A. Rex Orange County, has slowly been making a name for himself in the pop industry.
O’Connor broke onto the scene with his features on the Grammy-nominated album “Flower Boy” by Tyler, The Creator. His unique and soothing singing abilities in his appearances on the album captured listeners' ears.
On his 2019 release “Pony,” O’Connor showcased his jazz-like twist on pop and rock songs. The record peaked at number three on the Billboard 200.
From his recent success and impressive recent singles, O’Connor’s new album “WHO CARES?” was met with great anticipation.
On “WHO CARES?” O’Connor continues to venture into his jazz subgenre of rock and pop.
The title of the album can be perceived in two ways. Viewers can take it as who cares what other people think or they can see it as does anyone care about them.
The project consists of songs that dive into love, mental illness and possible heartbreak, but the messages get lost in repetitive instrumentals and meanings to the lyrics.
“KEEP IT UP,” “OPEN A WINDOW,” “WORTH IT” and “AMAZING” start off the record with instrumentals that consist of bellowing violins, catchy drum beats and hints of piano notes throughout the songs. These songs touch on topics such as fighting through tough times, mental illness and the unpredictability of love.
But the messages of these songs tend to get lost in the similar instrumental makeups which make the sound stale by the time you get to the third and fourth song on the album.
“OPEN A WINDOW” includes a feature from Tyler, The Creator where he continues to prove that he has great chemistry with O’Connor. Both artists provide lyrics about dealing with depression which makes this one of the standout songs on the album.
The album finally comes to a switch instrumentally with the song “ONE IN A MILLION”. The song still includes similar string notes to the first four songs, but the soothing piano and short bass notes take the stage.
The song goes into how O’Connor is madly in love with the person he is singing about and how she is unlike anyone he has ever met.
“IF YOU WANT IT” features quick synth notes and one of the catchiest drum beats on the album. O’Connor sings about how it just makes sense for him and the person he is singing about to be together, but in the second verse, he begins to speak about how he messes up in the relationship.
This theme is repeated in the following track “7 AM” where he continues to complain about his issues but rarely talks about changing.
In “SHOOT ME DOWN,” O’Connor says that he will become better and change but the song also includes more toxic lyrics about how he might not be able to love if he and his partner break up.
“THE SHADE” and “MAKING TIME” both include groovy guitar riffs and a similar drumbeat to most of the songs. The lyrics of both songs are similar as well because O’Connor sings about doing things for his partner and making time in his life to focus on them in both songs.
The album concludes with the title track “WHO CARES?” which again leaves the title up for interpretation to the audience.
Throughout the record, Rex Orange County shows off his amazing vocal abilities. He continues to prove that he is one of the best singers in the industry right now.
O’Connor also includes impactful meanings behind the songs but some of his lyrics about love and the struggles in his relationship come off as toxic.
He sings about mental illness and the struggles of life but what O’Connor has to say about these topics doesn’t change much. His lyrics are very similar, and this makes the songs indifferent.
The lack of diversity in the instrumental choices also prevents songs from sticking out on the album and makes a lot of them forgettable.
O’Connor should continue to produce music that sticks to his jazz interpretations of rock and pop. But he needs to produce songs that don’t sound like carbon copies of each other.
Individually these songs all sound very put together instrumentally. But together, they all sound alike and make the album generally harder to listen to as it goes on.
“Apricot Princess” and “Pony” are solid albums because the different instrumentals of the songs keep the listener hooked.
Some variety will be needed in O’Connor’s next project to bounce back from this one.
Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “OPEN A WINDOW” and “SHOOT ME DOWN”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Songs: “7 AM” and “WORTH IT”
Jayson O’Connell is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org