The widespread appeal of English songwriter and recording artist Rex Orange County’s music took off like a rocket after his debut mixtape in 2016. The talent and charm of his music quickly caught the attention of industry heavyweights such as Two Inch Punch and Tyler, the Creator. This launched his fame to new highs. After one critically acclaimed debut studio album and a few writing and feature credits on Tyler, the Creator’s massively successful album “Flower Boy,” Rex Orange County has dropped his second album titled “Pony.”
The three singles Rex dropped leading up to the release of “Pony” set relatively high expectations for this project. While they weren’t as instrumentally stimulating as the material from his last album, they were well-produced, feel-good tracks with solid lyrics and decent vocals. Generally, these statements can be applied to the majority of the seven other songs on this album with some truly standout moments.
“10/10” kicks off the project, and it sets a lovely tone for “Pony.” The lyrics are incredibly heartwarming, and the production has continuously synth-heavy riffs that pair well with Rex’s signature charming vocals. Lines such as, “I feel like a five, I can't pretend / but if I get my shit together this year, maybe I'll be a 10” and “Yeah, I turned superhero / I'm comin' in Bruce Wayne,” will surely put a smile on listeners’ faces.
On the topic of Rex’s vocals, he’s always had a sort of innocence and purity to his voice and delivery, but he can bust out a powerful performance when he wants to. “Pony” sees him embrace a more mellow, sing-songy approach to alternative indie music. His vocals won’t blow away listeners, but it’s far from offensive and is sweet on the ears.
Those who are looking for a powerful, grand performance from County can look no further than “Never Had The Balls,” one of the best tracks on the album. The acoustic and electric guitars, Rex’s melodic voice, the gorgeous string sections, the bird chirping samples and the endearing lyrics all make for a fantastic ode to someone who desperately wants to express their feelings to their lover.
Some of the best moments come in the form of Rex embracing more groovy, rhythmic sounds. His delivery is best enjoyed when he’s playing along with a catchy beat, like on “It Gets Better.” The backing drums and strings take turns presenting Rex with the opportunity to flex his best qualities as a singer, and the end result is a solid song about celebrating the progress two individuals in love have made together in life.
“Pony” isn’t without its flaws, however. While “Pluto Projector” contains great string sections, the song somewhat drags and isn’t sonically engaging until the end. “It’s Not The Same Anymore” falls into the same trappings and ends in a similar manner, making it a track that shouldn’t have ended off the entire project.
Despite these criticisms, “Pony” is a relatively solid collection of tracks that almost anyone can enjoy and find something to take pleasure in. If anything, this album is a reminder as to why Rex caught the attention of the industry only a few years ago. His music has a charming quality to it that warms hearts, and “Pony” exemplifies that.
Contact Julian Denizard at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.