Album of the Week: Rex Orange County, 'Pony'

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Rex Orange County, 'Pony'
Rex Orange County, 'Pony' (Sony Music)
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As Rex Orange County embarks on a new tour to support his album, "Pony," the English songwriter faces the scrutiny of any emerging artist making a major label debut. Alexander O'Connor started making music like so many of his peers in the past decade. He captured the zeitgeist with his Soundcloud uploads which led to him getting the attention of Tyler the Creator and a collaboration with Randy Newman. Since the buzz accompanying the indie-darling's first releases, fans and critics have been waiting for the English pop-soul singer's next outing.

Pony combines the soulful swing of the viral single "Loving is Easy" with the somewhat disorienting unspoken influences that span from R&B to adult contemporary. The best songs on the new album expose all sides of O'Connor's abilities as a songwriter and performer. The arrangement of the rapping on "Laser Lights" and the vocal processing on songs like "Stressed Out" gives the production a new level of sophistication. Lyrically, the album takes a step away from angsty teenage vignettes towards themes of coming of age. On "Face to Face" O'Connor sings, "we grew up while you let yourself down, I want out," as he recalls a misconnection between lovers.

The critics of Pony might miss what is so undeniably charming about Rex Orange County's music. The generational divide between artists influenced by curated record stores and radio has shifted to music for the sake of music. The result is disorienting for a generation of listeners who might hear influences of AC radio or lite rock, but to digital natives the influences mean less than the emotional connection to the music, and there is a strong emotive thread throughout Pony. I can't predict whether the album will withstand the test of time, but in the moment, it has a simplicity needed in this noisy world.

Rex Orange County's new album, "Pony," is out now on RCA Records.

Rex Orange County 'Pony' download code giveaway


Use this form to enter The Current's Rex Orange County 'Pony' download giveaway between 11 a.m. Central on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 and 11:59 p.m. Central on Sunday, November 3, 2019.

Twenty (20) winners will receive one (1) download code for Rex Orange Country's album 'Pony' in MP3 format. Four (4) back up names will be drawn. Winners will be notified via email.

Prize retail value: $9.99

We will contact the winner on Tuesday November 5, 2019.

This giveaway is subject to Minnesota Public Radio's 2019 Official Giveaway Rules.

You must be 13 or older to submit any information to American Public Media. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about American Public Media programs. See Minnesota Public Radio Terms of Use and Privacy policy.

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