Album Review: A Letter to My Younger Self by Quinn XCII

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Mikael Temrowski, better known by the name Quinn XCII, is a singer and songwriter from Detroit. While he started making music in 2011, he didn’t release his first studio album until 2017, The Story Of Us. He started out making music as a sophomore at Michigan State University and eventually released a mixtape. Now, 9 years later, he comes out with his highly anticipated third studio album, A Letter to My Younger Self.

The first track from the album is Am I High Rn, and also features blackbear. The track starts out with a quiet, synth-like instrument that continues throughout the opening of the track. It’s a pretty simplistic track, but I wasn’t expecting this track as an opener. On this track, they talk about the issue of paranoia and anxiety. They also use the metaphor of being ‘high’ to if this person is really into them, or if it is just an illusion.

Stacy continues with the quiet and tuned down tracks. It opens up with a quiet piano, as well as Quinn XCII’s soothing vocals. According to the artist, he said that he wanted to create something nostalgic that brought him back. The lyrics to the track seem to infer a friends with benefits type of relationship with the suggestive lyrics, but not taking things too seriously.

Sleep While I Drive takes the tempo back up and is definitely more ‘pop-influenced.’ You got your simple, bouncing sound effects, and some reverbed vocal effects. On this track, which also features Ashe, it seems like they’re in a relationship that has its shares of good and also bad. Even though people are saying it’s not a good relationship, they decide to keep to themselves.

Second Time Around is an emotion-filled piano ballad from Quinn XCII. Throughout the entire track, you can hear the pain and emotion he puts in this. The track talks a lot about getting a second chance and trying to do better the next time around. He admits that he made a mistake, whatever that may be, but he knows he can turn his life around if he gets that second chance.

Coffee was another promotional single for the album. Besides the awkward opening to the track, you have your piano and the occasional twangy guitar part. The track talks about this person leaving before the morning, which could reference a one night stand or a quick fling. He ended up making two cups of coffee, but this person didn’t stay for the morning.

Notice Me is another toned-down track that starts out with a simple guitar strumming. On this track, he wants someone to notice him and that he seems to let go of his dreams. He thinks about just settling down in a quiet lifestyle while no one will notice the work that he is putting in. There’s also the pain of not getting the recognition.

After that, we have the title track, A Letter To My Younger Self. It has a simple piano beat and drumkit. It also features Logic, which I think is a perfect fit for this beat. Quinn XCII expresses how important it is to focus on yourself and try to grow as a person. He also mentions about staying in the present instead of dwelling in the past. Logic talks about how critics aren’t happy with his recent projects and that he should stick to rapping. He also talks about how his next studio album is delayed until 2021, even though he has had a lot of attention in 2017–2019, with five different albums/mixtapes.

More Than Friends is another quick track that features a piano backing the track. Honestly, what Quinn XCII is producing on this track seems a bit basic and repetitive. He doesn’t really change up his voice much and continues to use the same flow throughout. Lyrics wise, he talks about what he could have with this person if he decided to make a move on this girl. Instead, he just laid back and let this other person swoop in and get her.

Mad At Me is a simple acoustic track for the album. The guitar playing is so raw and trimmed back compared to the other tracks. This definitely feels more real than some of the other things we’ve listened to on this album. Quinn XCII seems to be reminiscing about his time in Michigan and could refer to a time he met his wife or was dating someone else. He also said that this is about moving on with someone else if the spouse passes away.

Two 10s brings us back to the pop sound, as well as a string bass that carries the track. Just like the previous track, the instrumentation seems a little more real with the different live instruments instead of produced instruments. This is another track where he reminisces about when he was back in high school and asking his parents for some money to go out with his friends.

Meeting Strangers opens up with a quick drum beat, then the synth-pop notes are reintroduced. According to the lyrics, it seems like the relationship he’s talking about on the track is moving way too fast and that he would rather meet new people than move too fast. They want two different things so it’s not going to work out for them

The last track from the album is Everything I Need. It opens up with an eerie electronic piano that adds some more emotion to the track. The track slowly builds up over time with different instruments and effects coming in. He talks about a relationship and doesn’t know if it’s ready for it to be over. The only things that he needs are his friends and family.

As much as I enjoyed his 2019 album, From Michigan With Love, this album just doesn’t feel the same way. While there are some great slow and emotional tracks, there just seems to be too much back and forth thoughts thrown in. Despite the back and forth, there are definitely some tracks I will continue to listen to!
Overall Rating: 6/10
Favorite Tracks: Am I High Rn, Second Time Around, A Letter To My Younger Self

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