New Albums in 2022: Have Their Artists Truly Developed?

New Albums in 2022: Have Their Artists Truly Developed?

Alexandra Risi

In the world of music, there are always attempts made by artists to step out of their comfort zone with each new album. They experiment with new styles and techniques to capture the attention of new audiences, and ultimately expand their popularity. Today, I will be exploring that concept with two new albums, and analyzing the differences between the new music released and prior hits! 

First up, I listened to the album “Who Cares?” by Rex Orange County. I’ve been a huge fan of Rex’s music since summer 2019, more specifically the upbeat, catchy tunes he put out. After getting more into his music and listening to one of his more recent albums, “Pony”, I realized that Rex’s music also has a raw, emotional side that’s really interesting to listen to. “Pony” was a deep album, showing the difficulties of realizing the obtainability of a dream, and learning how to love. Through songs like “Pluto Projector” and “Always”, fans were able to truly feel the romantic dilemmas Rex was going through, and understand his sources of emotional distress. Additionally, his use of orchestras in the background of his songs added to the smooth, dramatic nature of this album, and began to characterize his albums for me. 

When “Who Cares?” came out, I was excited to see what new lens Rex would take to his music. As a whole, this album is very positive and uplifting, but not in the same way as his old music. In a sense, his music has matured, making his songs have much more of an ability to be replayed without being boring. I especially liked the way that each song flowed together, and the album had a cohesive sound. He was able to perfectly capture the indie-pop sound that is so well-recognized in his music, but he did it in a way that showed tremendous growth from his previous albums. I loved the way that he incorporated those same orchestral elements into his album, which tied back to his older music and created that same, dramatized effect with a new tone. 

As for if Rex stepped outside of the box with this album, I would say that he attempted to stay in his wheelhouse. He remained in that fun, uplifting kind of indie music that he is most known for. Although he didn’t do as much experimentation as I would have liked, I feel that the album as a whole benefited from this nostalgic style that he went for. By focusing on his old style and improving it, Rex was able to show his fans how much he has developed as a musician. Also, it gives him a chance to “seal up” his work on this particular style, and work on potential genre expansion in the future!

Next up I listened to the album, “Tell Me That it’s Over” by Wallows. I started listening to Wallows around the same time that I started listening to Rex, although I feel that both musicians have completely different sounds. Wallows leans towards a more alternative pop style, with a hint of rock in their music. Their first album, “Nothing Happens”, took on a darker approach than Rex did, but still experimented on multiple kinds of songs, creating a portfolio of the band’s abilities. The band has also released a number of EPs, my favorite one is “Spring.” Some of their older music I haven’t really been able to get into, but I definitely enjoy these shorter versions of albums since they are easier to listen to in one sitting. One thing I’ve noticed is that the band often likes experimenting with different sound effects in their music, which can sometimes add to the vibe of the song but can also feel random and disrupt the flow of their songs. 

I began listening to “Tell Me That it’s Over” while writing the beginning of this article, and it was truly a great experience. Each song was so unique, yet there was an underlying theme that tied it to the album as a whole. The album felt like a blend between “Nothing Happens” and their most recent EP, “Remote”, which was extremely interesting to hear considering the difference in sound between these two pieces. I noticed again that Wallows often implanted random sound effects, which, unfortunately, took away from the consistency of the music and often startled me. With that being said, there were multiple points while listening to this album that I had to stop writing and just listen to the music. This is because certain parts of each song, the bridges specifically, were so skillfully crafted that they caught my attention and begged me to listen. I also noticed that this album had a harder rock focus, as seen through the frequent guitar solos. I recognized and enjoyed the similarities between this album and their older ones in the lyrical aspect, and how the way that they sing each song stayed consistent.

I also think it’s important to note the ending song of this album: “Guitar Romantic Search Adventure”. I can confidently say that this song was different from every other song on the album. It was much more slowly paced, and incredibly emotional compared to their other music. They also continuously repeated the lyrics “tell me that it’s over now”, a call back to the original title of the album. I think this song was absolutely perfect to end the album with, as it gives an emotional, meaningful ending to a generally upbeat album and leaves the listener feeling the momentum of something that the band put so much work into. Ultimately, I do believe that Wallows went outside of their comfort zone with this album, maturing their music style and experimenting with new genres of music. 

Both of these albums were different in a multitude of ways but were a great way to bring some of my favorite artists back into the music industry. It was great seeing the way that each artist/group developed, and the small hints they would give back to their old music that makes being a fan along the way so worth it in the end. Although it probably won’t be for a while, I can’t wait to see what new stuff these artists put out in the future, and how they’ll continue to develop!