Rex Orange County Returns to the Musical Scene with Pony

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Illustration by Esther Liu

Vanessa Su
Arts and Entertainment Editor

Rex Orange County embodies an angsty, imperfect voice that characterizes youth, combining innocence with honesty in his new album, Pony. Released on Oct. 25, Pony is an inner look at Rex’s childish yet complex musical style, which incorporates many popular modern lo-fi music and bedroom pop sounds. 

Rex, who was musically inspired by artists such as Queen and ABBA in his youth, first released his work on Soundcloud in the form of an album called bcos u will never be free, which caught the attention of well-known artist Tyler, the Creator. After Rex’s hit album Apricot Princess was released in 2017, he was featured on Tyler, the Creator’s album and co-wrote songs “Foreword” and “Boredom.” 

Rex’s musical style has always leaned towards bouncy piano notes and guitar riffs that compliment his nasally voice. Pony does a splendid job at preserving that positive energy while adding a sense of nostalgia through softer bell sounds and synth notes. Despite this youthfulness, fans can hear Rex’s musical style shifting to that of an adult, with love-filled lyrics and sweet references to his long-term girlfriend Thea. 

The album’s first track “10/10” contains repetitive yet effective lyrics as Rex croons about “livin’ again” and wanting to be a “ten” — a statement that a majority of teenagers can relate to.

Slower and melancholy, “Always” relies on Rex’s emotional vocals and light instrumentation to show a softer, mellow side to Rex, as opposed to his popular high-energy raps.  

Percussion-heavy and jazzy, “Laser Lights” beautifully paints a picture of teenage freedom with Rex adding his own sighs as ad-libs and in a twist, a melodic trumpet. Reminiscent of songs from Apricot Princess, “Face to Face” contains an older musical style from Rex with echoey vocal distortion and light and harmonic claps as he sings about his sweet relationship with girlfriend Thea. 

Accompanied by distressed, squeaky vocals in the background, Rex sings about being taken for granted by other people as an artist in “Stressed Out” with lyrics explaining how he “let them take control and take me for a fool.” Inspired by an older 80’s musical style, “Never Had the Balls” is Rex’s take on romance, containing an underlying message encouraging fans to take the first step when pursuing their dreamy crushes. 

Slow ballad “Pluto Projector” allows Rex to showcase his powerful singing as his second single on Pony and doesn’t disappoint with its full orchestral instrumentation. Approaching the end of the album, “Every Way” reveals an intimate confession from Rex to Thea as he sings about how he will “care about [her] in every single way.” 

The ninth track, “It Gets Better,” is a full musical journey as it transitions from a simple, finger-snapping instrumental to an orchestral, string-filled song about how Thea changed his world and overlooks his flaws. Sticking to the orchestral theme, Rex’s last track on the album, “It’s Not The Same Anymore” marks an end of an era as he sings about growing up and having to embrace an adult lifestyle and responsibilities.  

Fans can now give Pony a listen on Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Rex is currently still on his Pony Tour in his native country of the United Kingdom and is set to perform at the O2 Academy in Birmingham on Nov. 12. American fans can look forward to attending his American leg of the tour, which begins early next year in January! 

Author’s Recommended Songs: “Face to Face” and “Pluto Projector”

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Vanessa Su is a third year Communication major and Japanese minor. She has loved editorial writing ever since high school and started working at TBL as a writer during her second year at UCSB. In her spare time, she enjoys reading Vogue articles, working out, and listening to Korean indie music.

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