By Will Andronico
Boston News Service
Just under eight months since his last album release, Quinn XCII’s (pronounced Quinn 92) newest album offers a more intimate production with lyrics describing the transitional period from youth into adulthood. “Change of Scenery II” echoes the style of his first EP from 2015 but implements a more advanced mix and better vocals for an overall upgrade in production value.
This project builds upon his third album released last summer, “A Letter To My Younger Self,” in which he explores the different stages of childhood from middle school through college. Unlike his last album, Quinn XCII approaches “Change of Scenery II” as a young adulthood anthology. Each song tells a different story from the perspective of an individual at a different point in his or her life.
Quinn XCII makes each song a unique, standalone story, bringing certain characteristics of early adulthood to life. In the song “Mexico City,” two young strangers, a woman and the hitchhiker she picks up, decide to travel to Mexico City, party and “liv[e] out of [her] trunk.” This captures the spontaneity of youth.
Despite the songs’ success as singular stories, the order of songs is clunky without an A-to-B trajectory. Thus, the album functions better as a collection of independent pieces rather than an album-long story arc.
The behind the scenes production of the album is available through a series of documentary-type videos on Quinn XCII’s YouTube channel. These peeks into the production process he and his production team renting a house in Newport, Rhode Island, to produce the album. Throughout the videos, there are glimpses into his relationship with his childhood friend and producer of “Change of Scenery” and “Change of Scenery II” Alex “Ayokay” O’Neill.
The two worked on the original “Change of Scenery” EP for release in 2015 when both were graduating college. Quinn XCII explains that the original album explored the “change of scenery” he and O’Neill were about to experience at the release time. “Change of Scenery II” is intended to capture one’s twenties.
Quinn XCII and O’Neill expanded upon the familiar pop-style production heard in Quinn XCII’s previous work in mixing the new album. For example, the single “Two 10s” off his last album took a basic approach with a bass line, occasional electric guitar and consistent drum kit keeping rhythm. However, the song is too simplistically produced to keep listeners interested for the full three minutes and 37 seconds. Comparatively, the similarly simple electric guitar, trap high-hat and 808 drumbeats of “My Wife & 2 Dogs” effectively engage listeners through two minutes and 19 seconds without overstaying its welcome.
Each song encapsulates a different production style in “Change of Scenery II.” Songs range from the melancholic acoustic guitar in “We Don’t Talk Enough (with Alexander 23)” to the upbeat, four-on-the-floor rhythm listeners enjoy in “Stay Next To Me (with Chelsea Cutler).”
As with his last three albums, Quinn XCII wraps up “Change of Scenery II” with a bow-tie: the nostalgic and upbeat “Look How Far We’ve Come.” Relating to his and O’Neill’s life progress after college graduation, the two have a speech interlude at the end asking, “What’s gonna be the song you can remember us by?” They then sample their 2015 smash-hit “Another Day In Paradise” before audibly closing the door on the album and, metaphorically, their youth.
Overall, “Change of Scenery II” is the personal journey of exiting their youth to find their place in the world. The album’s familiar style may attract Quinn XCII fans who are nostalgic for his earlier music. But, fans may see Quinn XCII take more risks in the production style with his next studio album.
This album may bring solace to those graduating as the 2020-2021 academic year comes to a close. Quinn XCII tells listeners that they have their whole life ahead of them to experiment and explore. But for now, look how far everyone has come.