Beneath The Surface: Rex Orange County – Pony

Pony, Rex Orange County’s 33-minute long sophomore album, attempts to condense the breadth of a pop album into a small, neat, tidily wrapped package.

The record kicks off with “10/10,” an upbeat tune that sees Rex reminiscing about failed friendships and expresses a desire for self-improvement. With concise lyricism, a triumphant chord progression, and creative synth work, this song is certainly a contender for the highest point of the record. The lyrics are honest, which is refreshing in the pop music industry known for its decreasing lyrical quality.

Second in the lineup is waltz-ballad, “Always.” This song is absolutely drenched in nostalgia as Rex riffs over a funky horn-line, singing about the difficulties one might face in a romantic relationship, or in a quest to improve oneself. 

Face To Face” is a rather uninteresting entry in the Pony’s tracklist. Although Rex describes the track as being about “feeling trapped in an undesirable situation,” and being away from home, the song only seems to skim the surface of what those themes could have entailed. Additionally, the instrumentation of the track lacks inspiration, sounding rushed and unemotional.

“Never Had The Balls” is a fairly strong point, making a good showing with its almost 80s-esque compositional style and harmonics. It’s a sweet, catchy song about a reluctance to admit an unrequited love. It’s a story that we’ve all heard many times before, but Rex succeeds in finding a creative renewal of the narrative, keeping listeners on the edge of their seats. 

Pluto Projector” is quite possibly the emotional peak of this record’s tracklist. The song begins like many of Rex’s other tunes with an understated instrumental and simple vocal line. The track slowly builds layers upon itself, concluding in a euphoric display of the singer’s true compositional ability. The horns, strings, and pianos all complement each other nearly perfectly, and the build of emotion throughout the song creates a satisfying rise and fall.

This song then transitions into “Every Way,” which acts as a sort of interlude. Although it bears a heavy resemblance to “Always,” it is intimate and makes the listener feel as if they could be listening to a friend singing in their bedroom.

It’s Not The Same Anymore” is the album’s conclusion. Reflecting on the loss of youth, Rex Orange County sings of how his “face has changed” and “lost its joy.” This song does a wonderful job of synthesizing the lyrical themes of the entire record and providing a satisfying end to a moderately impressive pop record that will likely inspire some aspiring musicians for some time to come.

Although Pony drags at certain points (mainly during “Stressed Out” and “Laser Lights”), there are enough shining moments to prevent the project from taking too much of a hit from these shortcomings. In his moments of true sincerity, which are unfortunately scarce, Rex did some fairly good work on this project.

Rating: 6.5/10

Credit: pitchfork.com

Pony, Rex Orange County’s 33-minute long sophomore album, attempts to condense the breadth of a pop album into a small, neat, tidily wrapped package.

Rex Orange County at the Observatory North Park

Rex Orange County brought his signature timeless energy and love to the Observatory North Park.

As I approached the Observatory North Park to see Rex Orange County on November 13, my mouth dropped once I saw how long the line was to enter the venue.  It was fascinating to me to see so many people that were all here for the same artist and who have been touched by his music in some way.

Everyone in the crowd carried positive energy and were talking about what they were most excited for during the show.  I was lucky enough to see Rex during the summer at Mo Pop Music Festival in Detroit, so I felt as if I was familiar with his show and set before it had even started.  However, during his show in San Diego I felt a whole new aroma and experience.

Once the lights went off and the cheering started, an audio recording from a vintage film began to play.  Rex walked out on stage and colorful rainbow lights flashed on, also revealing a backdrop with a picture of a peach.  The opening song was nonetheless “Apricot Princess,” which is on my favorite album of his called, “Apricot Princess” as well.

During the middle of the show, Rex decided to switch moods with the audience and play “No One” by the one and only, Alicia Keys.  I could not believe how amazing this cover was, especially because he made it sound like his very own version of the song. He played his acoustic guitar throughout the show, including during this song, which gave it a unique twist.

After Rex left the stage to prepare for the encore, the crowd cheered “Rex” as loud as they could, waiting for him to make another appearance.  When he came back on stage and the encore had started, Rex told everyone to shout the words to “Loving is Easy” and jump as high as they could throughout the chorus.  

The energy during the entire show was through the roof and everyone in the audience left the venue out of breath.  The show was an hour and a half, but felt as if I was there for barely an hour. I felt connected with the people around me because we were all bonding over the same music together.

 

Check out Rex’s website for more on the artist.

Review by: Kylie Buckfire