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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

Quinn XCII: To Michigan, With Love

Updated: May 11, 2022

Mikael Temrowski, known as Quinn XCII (read as “Quinn 92”), just released his second album, From Michigan, With Love on Friday. His music elegantly fuses influences from various genres, most notably hip-hop, pop, electronic dance music (EDM), and reggae. His first album, The Story of Us, came out just two years ago and kicked his career off to a strong start with tracks like “Straightjacket” and “Flare Guns”. With the precedent so high, I was a little nervous going in. However, his EP Road to Michigan, which teased four tracks (“Life Must Go On,” “Tough,” “Werewolf,” and “Sad Still”) gave me confidence in the full-length album. I’m proud to say that I have not been let down.

Track 1: "Holding Hands" (feat. Elohim) (9/10)

A strong opening to the album. Temrowski kicks off the album by telling the story of getting out of a five-year relationship and hoping that he can “tape my wounds and hopefully find someone new.” As expected, he hypnotizes the listener with the mellow beats and poetic lyrics. However, this song takes a more solemn tone than his other songs, incorporating a few notes of R&B.

Track 2: "Autopilot" (9/10)

This track is much more up to what I would have expected from Temrowski. Much like many other millennials, Temrowski feels like he’s “in Black Mirror” in the sense that he’s trapped in a modern world of fear and paranoia.

Track 3: "Life Must Go On" (feat. Jon Bellion) (7.5/10)

Again, a groovy and uplifting track that explores the struggles of coming-of-age and facing the troubles of the real world. However, it feels slightly repetitious and reminiscent of “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer (or is that just me?).

Track 4: "U & Us" (7/10)

This ballad shares heartbreak in having to move on past a previous relationship. Although it’s not a bad track, everything about this track feels cliché. The acoustic guitar, the lyrics begging for a lover to come back, synthetic string orchestra...nothing that’s never been done before. Again, it’s not bad, but I expected something more original. This sounds like something that would be put in a young adult movie where the couple temporarily breaks up only to be reunited 30 minutes later in the film.

Track 5: "Werewolf" (feat. Yoshi Flower) (8.5/10)

We’ve all been there: developing feelings for someone who we know isn’t good for us yet not being able to do much to control our feelings. However, Temrowski manages to turn this into a lighthearted-feeling bop. He compares someone to “moonlight” and himself as a “werewolf,” making the worst of him emerge. The tune and lyrics echo “Straightjacket,” but this track is distinct enough to not feel redundant.

Track 6: "Tough" (feat. Noah Kahan) (8/10)

This album shows a sense of growth and maturity, and this track is confirmation. He takes a poke at the concept of toxic masculinity pressuring men to appear “tough” and feeling that “your gym membership is not a crown.” Being tough and secure is beyond fitting the ideal image or hiding vulnerability; it lies in being secure in oneself.

Track 7: "Matches" (feat. Cautious Clay) (7.5/10)

Musically, this isn’t the strongest on the album and I can’t exactly lay my finger on why. However, this song is relatable. As someone who also continues to “cycle through refresh and fear of loneliness; Seems I’ll never learn that bridges always burn.” Even if the song isn’t the strongest, it’s relatable.

Track 8: "When I Die" (8/10)

Even in a cheesy love song, Temrowski manages to turn it into something almost cynical and morbid. In a moment where he’s supposed to feel happy with his lover (and he is!), he’s wondering if he’ll hold onto these memories when he dies. Much like a song from twenty one pilots, the song sounds happy and light until you scratch slightly beneath the surface.

Track 9: "Abel & Cain" (9.9/10)

This track is probably my second favorite and would be my favorite if the first contender didn’t have such a strong personal connection (more on that later). This also took the longest for me to decode. When I first heard it, I thought that it was a really catchy song and put it on my monthly favorites playlist for easy reference. However, the more I listen to it, the more I uncover. It cleverly fuses together references from the Old Testament of the Bible and Greek mythology (“You’re Abel, I’m Cain, I fell in the rain; Without you, I feel like I’m Hades”). Even if it wasn’t his intention, his pain caused him to hurt his lover, yet they forgive him.

Track 10: "Sad Still" (10/10)

Not going to lie, this track took some time for it to grow on me. I wasn’t crazy about the rapping; it felt jumbled and out-of-sync. However, this became my favorite from the original EP that was released prior to the album, and it continues to be my favorite (although “Abel & Cain” is an extremely close second). Temrowski had previously been quieter about his personal struggles with anxiety and mental health, but he found that opening up with a song "seemed easier;" "Your conversations with friends, family go long ways,” and this track makes me wish that I could go back to when I was a young teen and be more candid with my loved ones about my struggles. In the meantime, I’m glad that Temrowski is comfortable sharing his struggles, showing his audience that it’s okay to struggle, and to reach out.

Track 11: "Good Thing Go" (8.5/10)

Another cliché track, but this one is in the cheesiest romantic way. There’s really not much to say to that other than if you’re the type to make “singles awareness day” posts on Valentine’s Day, you might want to skip. It’s sweet, soft, and cute.

Track 12: "Right Where You Should Be" (feat. Luis Futon, Ashe) (8/10)

This uplifting track is basically what any Carnegie Mellon student needs to hear. “Life is running a race while you’re smoking, falling apart,” but “If you’re down on your face, it’s okay, you can look up.” The tune feels a bit cheesy, almost like someone patting your back and saying, “don’t worry; you’re doing great!” and only leading towards further feelings of self-doubt and thoughts of “are they just saying that?” Even then, a little musical reminder that it’s okay to go at one’s own pace is a nice ending to an album.

Overall, this album racks up to an average rating of 8.4/10. The standout tracks are “Holding Hands,” “Autopilot,” “Abel & Cain,” and “Sad Still,” all four being unique and fantastic in their own ways. It definitely did not disappoint, although I struggle to be able to compare it to The Story of Us. Still, I’m more than happy that I got to share his music with my boyfriend and even more excited to see Quinn XCII live this spring break with him.

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