Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Rex Orange County release new album “Who Cares?”

After more than a year, the bedroom pop singer returns to fan acclaim
Photo Courtesy of the Rex Orange County Facebook Page

Can you name that song everyone cries to on TikTok? I know, there are plenty to go around, but for me, the saddest trending TikTok song is “Pluto Projector” by Rex Orange County, which is particularly tearjerking during its orchestral ending. Rex Orange County (formally Alex O’Connor, a 23-year-old singer from the U.K.) has been one of bedroom pop’s biggest artists since 2015, and he has just released his fourth studio album titled “Who Cares?” on March 11.

Fans’ first glimpse of the album came in the Fall of 2020 when Rex tweeted out “Who Cares?” followed by another tweet of two emojis, a CD and a grinning face. Over quarantine he also hosted Instagram lives where he teased small parts of the album. Flash forward to March 2022, almost a year and a half later, he finally released the album.

The album has a track list of 11 songs, including three pre-release singles over the two months before the album dropped in its entirety. With only one feature by Tyler, the Creator, Rex teamed up with Benny Sings for the songwriting and production for the album.

While most anticipated this to be a sad break-up album after Rex announced his long-term relationship ended, “Who Cares?” has unexpectedly been a journey of his battles with anxiety and his struggles for acceptance from others. The first two tracks, “Keep it Up” and “Open a Window (feat. Tyler, the Creator),” tackle the feeling of trying too hard at something and not realizing that doing your best is enough. Rex sings about the stresses of what others think and having to keep pushing on as yourself. Whether that’s through self-encouragement or by simply opening a window to catch your breath. These songs are upbeat with the typical indie pop backtracks and accompanying orchestra strings and piano that flow through the songs.

“Keep it Up” was the first single released on Jan. 11, premiering a ‘90s VHS style music video to which was filmed all over Amsterdam. He also announced a tour, anticipating stops in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland for summer 2022. He also announced merchandise inspired by “Who Cares?” including sweatshirts, tees, hats and even socks.

“Who Cares?” is not only a self-acceptance journey, but a profession of love. “Amazing“ addresses how he is able to push through anxieties because he has someone to help him through it who has come and saved him. My favorite song, “One in a Million,” reminds me of his past love songs like “Apricot Princess” and the viral single “Loving is Easy.” The backtrack is catchy and the lyrics are so adoring that it now holds a special place in my heart for the album. He sings how he has found someone who isn’t wrong to him and that “There’s nothing much I can do, I’m aware there’s no one quite like you,” referring to how much he’s fallen for this girl. He also sang this live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote the album on the day it was released.

Fans assumed this album was coming sooner than March 2022 as he has been releasing albums every two years since 2015, but fans agree the album was worth the wait. Something that Rex Orange County gives to his audience is the mutual perspective on anxiety that many fans can relate to. He again has created a bond with his fans and shows a side of him where he can be vulnerable about his worries and how he’s doing the best he can, while encouraging his fans to do the same. He has been able to keep the bedroom pop genre alive and well thanks to Rex Orange County’s stylistic discography on his albums and the fan base he has grown around it. “Who Cares?” is the perfect album for Rex Orange County’s line up and becoming one of my favorites of the year.

Jenna Arruda can be reached at [email protected].

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