quinnie’s new album flounder is, indeed, floundering
By Chela Wetzel
On Feb. 24, indie-pop artist quinnie released her first full-length album flounder through Columbia Records.
flounder is an almost embarrassingly topical ode to Gen-Z, both in content and quality. Fitting Gen-Z’s diminished attention span, the entirety of flounder runs just over 35 minutes. Of the eleven tracks that comprise the album, three run for less than two minutes. The simplistic composition and catchy, lip-sync worthiness of these tracks make them sound more like TikTok music than stand-alone artistry.
The short length of the songs is just one example of a plethora of things that point to how inexperienced and juvenile flounder is as an album — four of the eleven tracks had already been released on an EP of the same name last month. While releasing a few songs in anticipation of an album is relatively normal, the choice to release four from an already short album leaves listeners disappointed with the lack of new content.
quinnie first blew up on TikTok this past summer with her single “touch tank,” which is nestled into flounder as the fourth track. The lyrics of “touch tank” are undeniably honest, catchy, and sexy in a comfortable way. The chorus sings “He’s so pretty / When he goes down on me,” a playfully ironic line, touching on the sweetness of intimacy with someone you love.
quinnie’s trademark lyrical sincerity is present on every track of the album, but to a degree that begs the question as to how much of her songwriting is really art as opposed to just bland remembrances. Lyrics like “And stay up real late / Playing iPod touch games / Hope my parents don’t peak on a lark” in “popcorn & juice” are so reminiscent of the Gen-Z childhood experience that it’s uncomfortable. Her candor is not a romanticization of a memory as one might expect of a song about childhood; it’s just a visceral reliving of a mundane moment that really has no beauty. “popcorn & juice” is a nod to how our generation has been addicted to technology since childhood, something I personally don’t find beautiful or want to reflect on. With lyrics like this, it’s no wonder that quinnie found her initial success with the similarly technologically addicted population on TikTok. Her songwriting is elementary, full of lyrical cliches. In “emblem,” she sings “shine and endure like you’re gold in the dirt,” a bromide that reeks of unoriginality.
In the lead-off track, “man,” you can hear quinnie’s voice being pushed to its absolute capacity. With each successive octave step, you can feel her working as hard as she can –– and it’s not pretty. Her voice is already nasal and whiny; adding impossibly high notes makes it almost unbearable. Lyrically, “man” is fit for the contemporary era –– and the contemporary era only. Lyrics like “fuck the softboi scam” simply won’t hold up in a few years once “softbois” aren’t part of the zeitgeist. quinnie is gearing content specifically towards Gen-Z –– and for a specific sect of them, it’s working. Gen-Z sees themselves represented in her commitment to an entirely lowercase brand, topical lyricism, and crooning sad-indie-girl persona. But for the majority of other listeners, quinnie comes off as a creatively bankrupt amalgam of Olivia Rodrigo, Clairo, and Beabadoobee.
quinnie has clearly taken inspiration from ’60s and ’70s folk music in “security question” and “itch,” two of the more compositionally interesting tracks of the album. Other tracks, such as “get what you get” and “emblem” are so clearly inspired by Olivia Rodrigo that one has to wonder if she tried to copy Rodrigo exactly in a grasp for mainstream success. The excessive drum beats that permeate the middle and end of quinnie’s songs are redolent of mass-produced pop –– far too intense for the singer-songwriter vibe of the lyrics and her voice. The progression of the songs is predictable and follows a nearly identical pattern –– a soft lofi introduction with minimal instrumentals, followed by emotional climaxes led by strings, and then an addition of overpowering drums, evocative of typical pop production. Throughout flounder, quinnie tends to prioritize her voice over the instrumentals. While other artists may be able to pull this off, quinnie’s voice is simply not up to par.
While a generally disappointing listen, flounder has the possibility of promise. quinnie is only 21 –– having gained traction and a following at that age is admirable and likely indicates future success. In an Instagram post, she wrote that all of the songs on flounder were written between the ages of 18 and 20, so the fact that she managed to turn these into a cohesive album produced by a respected label is nothing short of impressive. Perhaps for now she’s happy filling the internet-addled Gen-Z niche, but if she wants to ever gain mainstream and significant success, both she and her work have some serious maturing to do.