From Michigan With Love was a meaningful exploration into a new side of Quinn XCII



I feel full in the most inexplicable, melancholy, contented way. I feel some anxious, continuously-craving-more part of my being finally being sated. I feel the currents of the sweet, mellifluous beats infusing my soul and crashing through my bloodstream when I listen to From Michigan With Love by Quinn XCII.

Two years ago, he debuted with the album The Story of Us. It set a precedent for what his style of music is and should be with songs like “Straightjacket,” “Flare Guns,” and my favorite, “Always Been You.” The twelve-track album From Michigan With Love continued to be classic Quinn XCII but with more introspection and vulnerability.

“When I Die” is the perfect union of these elements. Until the beat drops, it feels as if you are suspended in honey, suspended in time. The first organ note that powerfully opens the song sets a solemn, nostalgic vibe that intensifies as Quinn XCII begins to sing. His voice brings a  beautifully raw aspect to his music that is most salient at the end of phrases where his passion is exhaled with his breath.

His voice is more than just the way it sounds, unlike current popular artists. Quinn XCII has things he wants to say, and his music is simply the outlet. In multiple tracks, he addresses his issues with anxiety. He blatantly snaps back amidst an overwhelming and surprising explosion of beats in “Sad Still,” with the lyrics, “Wanna treat the term anxiety like it’s taboo/Come off that opinion I think you need this more than I do.” It was as if Quinn XCII couldn’t choke back the words anymore, so he let them cascade into his music in a violent, jarring way.

“Sad Still” isn’t the only track where his words are scathing. The words and message in “Tough” (feat. Noah Kahan) are just as abrasive; however, the music presents them differently. The smooth, acoustic song juxtaposes his message. Quinn XCII demonstrates his respectable vocal range as he chastises society for being afraid to be veritable, to admit they have insecurities.

Furthermore, everything he sings is so real and undramatized. “Life Must Go On” stands out because of this and because of the light, happy tune. It is at about that moment when you realize that things can only get better. Like most of Quinn XCII’s songs, it has an infectious beat that, when paired with its uplifting words, strips away the day’s stresses one by one. I couldn’t help but smile and put it on repeat.

Not all of his songs are hard-hitting, thought-invoking pieces. He compiles a bouncy melody, a goofy metaphor, and reckless romance in “Werewolf” (feat. Yoshi Flower). It opens with ominous crickets and nature sounds before it does a 360, and the piano plucking begins. As the song builds, a saxophone can be heard in the background. The variety of instruments creates dynamic works that rise, fall, and draw your attention.

Life is only just a day dream

Moreover, not all of the songs on From Michigan With Love sound the same, yet they form a cohesive album.  There is a sharp contrast between the electronic, modern sound of “Autopilot” and the indie sound of “U&Us.” “U&Us” sounded like a Mumford and Sons song, and it was something that Quinn XCII pleasantly surprised me with.  Despite their differences, they both somehow fit together like french fries and milkshakes.

Out of the entire album, the song “Good Thing Go” is my favorite, which I can confidently say without even a sliver of my notorious indecision. It is so emotionally loaded, but the song is remarkably chipper. At the bridge, Quinn XCII softens his voice and quiets down; it feels tender and personal. I broke down–the romance got to me.

From Michigan With Love was more than I could have ever expected from Quinn XCII. Not only was the music infinitely more lovely than I could have dreamed, but it’s not every day that an artist recognizes their humble roots with an album title and tour. Two stops are in Michigan, one downtown next week.  

I wish I had listened to From Michigan With Love sooner, so I could have bought tickets to see Quinn XCII in concert.