Rex Orange County’s WHO CARES? proves that the Indie genre never goes out of style. With soothing instrumentals, soft vocals, and an overall quieter sound, WHO CARES? explores heartache, pure love, and—most importantly—self-acceptance.
In 2020, Alex O’Connor—better known as Rex Orange County—took a trip to Amsterdam with friend Joe MacLaren. During their stay, they met up with singer-songwriter Benny Sings. O’Connor and Sings had collaborated on the 2017 track “Loving is Easy” and instantly got to throwing ideas around. Within twelve days, they had written an album.
In an interview with NME, Rex Orange County explains how freeing the process of writing his fourth album was in comparison to his last album, Pony. Instead of weighing himself down with pressure, he has learned to allow himself to take it easy and have fun writing new songs. As the title of the album suggests, he has found freedom in not concerning himself with what other people might think.
WHO CARES? is all about accepting your insecurities and understanding they don’t define you. There’s a sense of growth in this album that’s highlighted by lyrics such as “You no longer owe the strangers” and “There’s no good reason not to love if you want it.” The feelings that we’ve all felt at some point in our lives have become background noises to happier, kinder tunes with WHO CARES?. Across eleven tracks, Rex Orange County provides support and comfort through songs that can best be described as gentle and uplifting. In fact, the songs are so relaxing you may not even pick up on some of the heavier undertones in the lyrics.
The opening song and first single, “KEEP IT UP,” sets the mood and expectations for the rest of the album, complete with keyboards, piano, bass, and background vocals. It’s calm, yet strong; soft, yet affirmative. Much of what follows has a similar sound, with some songs like “AMAZING” and “IF YOU WANT IT” picking up the slightest bit for a less mellow tune and a peppier sound. The title track is the perfect close for the album, solidifying the album’s overarching message and tying everything together in a neat little bow.
Some listeners might find WHO CARES? to be more repetitive than Pony as the songs do not differ greatly from each other. But for those looking for background music or an easy listen, the variety—or lack thereof—will be of no concern.
WHO CARES? won’t have you jumping out of your chair to dance, but it will wrap you up in a hug and give you the comfort you need on those tough days.