Y’know who cares? Rex Orange County. He cares very much. But in a paradoxical twist of the tale, he also doesn’t care at all. Not because he literally ‘doesn’t give a sh-t’, but because he can’t care. Caring takes a ton of energy you see, and sometimes our boy is fresh outta emotional bubblegum.
What has young Englishman Alex O’Connor learned since the heady days of Pony, the singer-songwriter’s “masterfully self-deprecating” third album of 2019?
He’s learned that a simple piano melody (so unabashed that it sometimes gives a ‘musical theatre practise in the assembly hall’ vibe) is all you need, and that his style of confessional ennui – whittled to a fine point by, across the pond, BENEE – is a ticket to ride. That contrariness isn’t weakness. That imposter syndrome and insecurities are not only ample pop fodder, but that investigating them can lead to a line of logic that offers an escape, like breadcrumbs sparkling in the sunlight. That vulnerability is strength, self-care is critical, and faking it is a legitimate coping mechanism. (See: the thumbs-up character which permeates the album’s promo material.)
He makes the simple sound profound, because it’s presented so unaffectedly (and a few discerningly-placed swears ensure things don’t get cloying, e.g. “There’s so many reasons I can barely take it any more, f-ck this,” delivered perfectly blithely in Open a Window which features long-time collaborator Tyler, the Creator).
The romance of strings, lightly syncopated rhythms up close in the mix, that afore-mentioned piano, and observational insights which always somehow curl back around towards the hopeful (“Let it go, give it a try, didn’t you know, nobody’s perfect/ You can choose to be upset, but just get over it – it’s up to you” – Worth It) results in another beautifully poignant manifesto of uncluttered candour from the bedroom-pop magus.
WHO CARES? by Rex Orange County is out March 11 via Sony.
Rex Orange County is touring Oz in September! Dates below, details and tickets here.
Thu 08 Sep 2022 – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Sat 10 Sep 2022 – Riverstage, Brisbane
Mon 12 Sep 2022 – Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide
Wed 14 Sep 2022 – Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
Sat 17 Sep 2022 – Belvoir Amphitheatre, Perth
Keep up with the latest Australian release dates for music.