Written Before Listen
Rex Orange County is one of the most successful musicians in the genre of bedroom pop. From what I’ve heard from him, he seems like a talented musician with a music appreciation, but I’ve never dug deep into his music in the same way I have with let’s say Mac DeMarco. This will be my first time listening to a Rex Orange County project, so without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Rex Orange County is surely someone who’s leading the bedroom pop scene at the moment, but he’s dug on his influences like Mac DeMarco, Mac Miller, and Tyler The Creator. For example, the song “Open A Window” features Tyler The Creator because it’s practically sacrilege not to have him. On the other hand, I like the influences he uses, but they are just predictable.
Rex Orange County’s instrumental palette usually consists of live-sounding drums, rhythmic bass, jangly guitars, analog synths as well as strings. I think every production detail is done well, but something about it sometimes rubs me the wrong way. The song “Worth It” has a mixture of laid-back 90s R&B with baroque pop and it’s not a mix that works well for me. The song “Making Time” is this 3/4 soul ballad that devotes way too much of its time to aesthetics in my opinion. Luckily there are some songs like “One In A Million” and “7AM” where Rex brings his finest examples of Bedroom Pop. On the other hand, Rex has 11 tracks on this song to prove himself, and only a couple stick out to me on a sonic aspect.
I think Rex’s songwriting abilities are my favorite part of this album. Songs like “Amazing” and “One In A Million” are two blissful love songs with a good message to go with them. The song “Shoot Me Down” comes with hard-hitting lyrics about accepting yourself in a suffering relationship. We then get the following title track “Who Cares?” Where we, unfortunately, end on a bad note. Rex continues to ask if anyone cares about him over this somewhat playful instrumental. Its kind of like a sense that he’s ok but he’s speaking like he’s not. Songs like that are reasons why I enjoy the songwriting on this record.
Now let’s talk about a big gripe of mine with this album, the overt attempts of genre-bending. The bedroom pop aesthetic is kind of like a trail mix of genres. Like it’s indie-pop music, but it’s also made to sound retro with the gear they use. Not to mention that it takes the influence of Psychedelic Pop, Synthpop, Funk, Sophisti-Pop, Dream Pop, Trip Hop, R&B, Chillwave, and the occasional folk and rock influence. It’s like….” hey I’m an indie kid” in a nutshell. Luckily, these genre-bends do come with some good songs but it’s just a casserole with too many ingredients included.
Now, I think my thoughts of Rex Orange County were not met with expectations, but they were exactly what I was expecting. Bedroom Pop that shows everything that Bedroom Pop is about. Most Bedroom pop that I’ve enjoyed doesn’t devote itself too strongly to that aesthetic and the bedroom pop musicians that developed themselves escaped that aesthetic. Let’s hope Rex escapes the bedroom sound with something more powerful and impactful because right now, Rex Orange County makes unimpressive bedroom pop on WHO CARES?.
This is surely a Rex Orange County album. That’s really what I can say about this album. I like the songwriting and I like some elements about the production but it’s what I already expected Rex Orange County to be. I guess I’m not big on this. I can see why people would be but its personally not for me.