Review: Rex Orange County’s new album, ‘Pony,’ steals the show

Kylie Brown, Entertainment Editor

Rex Orange County’s recent album release, “Pony,” has captured the hearts of fans, both old and new. As someone who has listened to Alex O’Connor, also known as Rex Orange County, for a few years now, I can confirm that this album is a gem and has been on repeat for me since its release. Although having a different sound than many of his previous releases, the album as a whole demonstrates noticeable growth with deep and meaningful tracks. 

The album opens with the single “10/10.” I believe this song was the perfect choice to open with. The energetic opener captures the attention of listeners and had me nodding my head along. You don’t have to like indie music to appreciate the upbeat bops.However, the lyrics still foreshadow the theme of the album: overcoming struggles and personal growth. The lyrics are brutally honest in saying that he needs to “get his s**t together.” But just as the song title suggests, he’ll feel like a 10/10 if he turns his life around. 

Following this uplifting song is “Always,” a much slower tune. Although it isn’t the shining star of the album, I can appreciate it for the strong and emotional vocals. During the chorus, especially, I felt like I was listening to him live in concert, the background vocals adding to the smooth rhythm.

As you continue listening, the album takes you through O’Connor’s journey, each song being unique and distinguishable. “Laser Lights,’’ a song that reminds me of his previous releases, is more of a “speaking” song rather than singing. Because of this, I find the song to be somewhat unmemorable in the mix of the other tracks. After “Laser Lights,” however, the album only goes uphill, containing some of my personal favorites (“Face To Face,” “Stressed Out,” “Never Had The Balls”). The electric piano and programmed beats mixed with O’Connor’s sultry, “old-soul” voice is the perfect combination.

There’s also a turning point toward more of a romantic perspective. “Face To Face,” for example, is a sweet recollection of being woken up by what we can assume to be his lover. He appreciates her presence in his life during some of his personal difficulties. What makes the album unique, though, is that it is not a jumble of love songs focusing on just a girl. It is still mainly focused on O’Connor’s personal struggles toward happiness, noting the girl who helped him along the way.

The last track makes this entire album for me. “It’s Not the Same Anymore,” a 6-minute track of beautiful vocals and raw emotion, wraps up the entire message of overcoming adversity. Not only is a song this long rare from Rex Orange County, but it’s almost entirely singing, making each second count. Most importantly, the song discusses change that is difficult to deal with, an issue that is applicable to every human being. Simply put, I have listened to this song an embarrassing amount of times.

“Pony” is not only successful for its variety, but for its relatability. Everyone goes through hardships, but this album is the most optimistic reminder that it is possible to overcome them and become happier in the end. For that reason, Rex Orange County blew his fans out of the water with this release. Just as the album starts, the album ends with a 10/10.