Rex Orange County had big shoes to fill when following up his junior album Pony released in 2019, but he exceeded every expectation with his newest album WHO CARES?.
This record brought Rex back to the roots of his music, giving off an aura of Apricot Princess with its sweeping instrumentals and melancholy lyrics layered over upbeat piano melodies. However, it remains distinct with its narrative arrangement and unbreached range of topics.
Although I can genuinely say that I loved each and every song on this record, there were some standouts, namely “7AM”, “OPEN A WINDOW”, and “WORTH IT.” “7AM” is a contemplative ballad in which Rex explores his self-worth. Despite being set over relatively simple chord progressions, his voice is very much complimented by understated bass tones. It ties in really well with the rest of the album in terms of subject matter and overall style, and even though it is slightly repetitive, that only adds to the tenderness of the lyrics.
After Rex’s double appearance on Tyler the Creator’s groundbreaking 2017 album Flower Boy, many fans were itching to hear the pair collaborate on another track. They did just that on “OPEN A WINDOW”, and boy, did they deliver. Though lyrically it is not as cohesive in the context of the album as some of the other songs, the funky strings and bass tie it in perfectly. Albeit short, Tyler’s throaty section of the song beautifully sets off Rex’s flourishing vocals.
Rex’s signature move of a peppy beat glossing over lugubrious lyrics is extremely prevalent in “WORTH IT.” The balance of classical instrumentals and funky drumbeats make for the quintessential background to the reflective lyrics. This gives a retrospective effect spanning over all his albums, as this has been a common theme since his first album, Bcos U Will Never B Free.
I would be remiss not to give a special shoutout to “AMAZING”, which strays from the pattern of self-reflection for a classic love song. The swoon-worthy lyrics make it a much-appreciated addendum to the record.
In my very humble opinion, WHO CARES? was a huge success. Regardless of the surprisingly underwhelming critic response to the album, it truly expresses the best of everything Rex: gorgeous instrumentals, sublimely emotional lyrics, and genre-bending beats. I can’t wait to see what’s next.