Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
When I first heard of Rex Orange County, he was presented to me as the new act from Adele’s management team, but he ended up winning a fanbase off the back of an endorsement by a very different artist. Surrey teenager Alex O’Connor has gone from studying at The Brit School to appearing on two tracks on Tyler, The Creator’s latest album, Flower Boy. Since then he’s shared stages with Tyler’s collaborators, Frank Ocean and Badbadnotgood, as well as UK rap star Skepta. Despite his cool new crew, the 19-year-old singer still comes across as a typical, slightly nerdy middle class British boy. I couldn’t see the fuss at first, but the sweet, relatable and original lyrics in some of his standout songs helped me to understand why he’s one of the most tipped artists for 2018. I enjoyed Best Friend (which reminded me of Declan McKenna’s one good song, Why Do You Feel So Down), and the upbeat album track Television. While The Fader described Rex Orange County as “post-genre” and compared him to Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract, to my ears his sound is definitely indie-pop. However, his association with hip-hop acts has affected him in interesting ways, for example his musical prolificacy – he’s already released two albums, or “projects” as we’re apparently supposed to call them now, before having a breakthrough hit or signing a record deal (as far as we know…).