REVIEW: Quinn XCII’s new album ‘A Change of Scenery II’ touches on purpose, reflection and escapism

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After spending the past year sitting in my room watching Zoom lectures, I’ll admit a change of scenery sounds absolutely amazing. Since I’m stuck posting on discussion boards between work and classes, musician Quinn XCII’s new album “A Change of Scenery II” will have to make up for my solitude.

Quinn XCII — real name Mikael Temrowski — released the sequel album to his debut EP “A Change of Scenery” this past week. It just so happened I was driving home for the weekend, so I had the chance to listen to the album while taking in my own change of scenery.

Quinn opens the album with a short ambient intro that beautifully transitions into the first full song, “Distracted Youth.” A hypnotic guitar riff resonates throughout this song about temporary distractions and the fear of complacency. He sings, “I’d rather find a temporary situation than somebody to spend my life with.”

Songs like “My Wife & 2 Dogs” and “Mexico City” focus on escaping an undesirable situation for a soul-searching, life-affirming adventure. Whether leaving town for a few days or straight-up fleeing the country, Quinn makes it clear he’s ready for change.

“My Wife & 2 Dogs” plays with meta lyricism as Quinn talks about getting away from everything after finishing the album. While the process was fun, he’s ready to “Buy some real estate with all of these cool songs we made / Move out to the beach with my wife and my two dogs.” Honestly sounds like a great plan to me.

“Mexico City” gives off coming-of-age road trip vibes, with absolute strangers abandoning their normal lives so they can, “Go down to Mexico City / F**k around and get drunk.” They spend all their money on takeout food and clothes, talking about their lives and what the world expects from them.

Escaping doesn’t always mean running away from your life. Sometimes you can escape through other people. “Stay Next to Me (with Chelsea Cutler)” is a duet about two overwhelmed party-goers ditching the clubs and taking on the night together. With no destination in mind, they sing “We should go somewhere / You choose, I don’t care / As long as you’re right here / Stay next to me.”

As fun as it might sound to ditch your life and get drunk in Mexico’s capital — trust me, I know — escapism is usually a sign of much deeper problems. Quinn addresses these problems in songs like “Dorris Terrace (with ayokay and Jeremy Zucker),” “Feel Something” and “We Don’t Talk Enough (with Alexander 23).”

“Dorris Terrace” depicts someone going through a depressive episode, struggling to find purpose in the monotony of everyday life. In Zucker’s verse, he sings, “I made it out the house today, / I even called my mom / It feels so strange to measure my worth / With every little thing that I get done.” Sometimes we have to find purpose in the small accomplishments, even getting out of bed.

Conflicting emotions are brought up in “Feel Something,” as Quinn wrestles with his need for sympathy and inability to share how he really feels. The rhythmic pattern and rhyme scheme in the verses feel choppy, like jumbled thoughts in an anxious mind. Quinn sings, “The illusion I’m fine / Should not be stuck in your mind / Wish you could see what I see in the mirror.”

“We Don’t Talk Enough” is heartbreakingly nostalgic, an acoustic message of fading friendships and lost connections. We’ve all lost touch with close friends before, not for any particular reason, but simply because life pushed us apart. Quinn sings in the chorus, “It’s no one’s fault that life gets tough / But all we share in common is that we don’t talk enough.”

Closing the album with a moment of reflection, Quinn takes a breath and acknowledges his growth in “Look How Far We’ve Come.” He reminisces about his college antics and compares them to his life now, pointing out that, “When you and I were young / This is all we ever wanted / Look how far we’ve come.” The song ends with the slam of a door, signaling a new chapter in his life.

It’s been a rough year, and we could all use a change of scenery. Take some time to escape with Quinn XCII’s new album. After everything that’s happened, you should be proud of how far you’ve come.

Jared Shuff is the Collegian culture editor and a junior in secondary education. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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My name is Jared Shuff, and I am the current editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.