Release Date: Oct 25, 2019
Record label: RCA
It's been two years since Rex Orange County shared 'Loving Is Easy' and, on a surface level, you could say his life has looked pretty sweet ever since. With two critically acclaimed albums already under his belt and a lauded appearance on Tyler, The Creator's 2017 'Flower Boy', it would be an easy assumption, but a first listen to his forthcoming third LP 'Pony' shows it's been anything but. Frankly, Rex has not been feeling good and throughout the record he documents the struggles he's been facing over the last few years, coating his difficulties with jazz-flecked bittersweet indie melodies.
An innate indie-pop flair has emanated from Rex since he emerged on the scene. But is there a similar feel on this record? For Rex's third instalment Pony, he's decided to lay himself bare. The way that human emotion is portrayed within this album takes many fascinating and dynamic forms, making it an enthralling listen from start to finish. The sensitivities of love are displayed poignantly on "Everyway" - a slow-tempo, piano-led track where Rex's vulnerable lyrics are at the forefront.
Alexander O'Connor, aka Rex Orange County, is a gifted performer who makes emotive, somewhat lo-fi songs infused with jazzy chords and '70s singer/songwriter lyricism. It's a sound that helped draw listeners to 2017's Apricot Princess, and one which he continues to develop on his third album, 2019's Pony. O'Connor's laid-back style and naturally resonant vocals bring to mind a quirkier version of contemporary artists like Jamie Cullum or John Legend.
Since Rex Orange County released his first moment of pop genius 'Loving Is Easy' back in 2017, the Surrey-born musician has been a difficult artist to pin down. One minute he is working with Tyler The Creator, the next it's Randy Newman. Crudely speaking his music lies somewhere between the two, as an envelope pushing, genre bending multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter.
I n 2017 Rex Orange County released Apricot Princess, a record full of breezy, sugary candour; that same year, the young Surrey artist, real name Alex O'Connor, was a guest on rap maverick Tyler, the Creator's Flower Boy. Suddenly, O'Connor was a need-to-know name, coming second in the BBC's Sound of 2018 poll. Pony is his first full-length release and finds him considering new circumstances and weighty expectations ("everything makes me want to quit while I'm ahead," he admits on Face to Face).
O ne of the most accurate neologisms of recent times is softboi: a certain kind of earnestly poetic, puppyish but slightly damaged young man you'd meet on swipe-based dating apps. They have found their patron saint in Rex Orange County, 21-year-old English singer-songwriter Alexander O'Connor. The breezy romance of his defining hit thus far, Loving is Easy, has curdled.