Music, Print, Reviews May 4, 2020

Album Review: Quinn Ayers – Feelings Have Ceilings

by Kevin Johnston

Quinn Ayers’ full-length Feelings Have Ceilings evokes isolated, late-night drives gazing at the neon of his native Las Vegas. The University of Northern Colorado ball-player’s home city is a good metaphor for the record: promising and impressively elaborate but with loneliness beneath the bling. “Ask me how I feel, I just wanna make some tunes and maybe f–ing fade away,” Ayers laments on the depression-pop anthem “How I Feel.”

Heavy on trap sounds, Post Malone influence and hints of Frank Ocean, Feelings Have Ceilings employs almost constant use of autotune and melodyne effects on Ayer’s vocal, sounding like hip-hop hooks on a loop. But hey, it’s 2020 and the “sound of T-Pain” is less a novelty and more part of the fabric of our times, as evidenced by everyone from, hell, Cher to folk god Bon Iver.

A hefty nod is due to Feelings producer Potions, who’s daring pitch-fluttered, reverse swells in “On My Own” provide intrigue over the dance beats, while synthesized textures of acoustic guitar and orchestral punctuation (on “Sober & Drifting” too) give a current of authenticity underneath the in-the-box vocal and staccato hi-hats.

The sincere “With Love, Q” leaves the trap beats behind, but still leans heavily on vocal effects and Mellotron. In fact, one of the only clean vocal moments on FHC is the opening of the title track and closer. This production choice parallels a touch-less, socially distant reality, where connection only happens through earbuds and glowing screens, begging the question: what will “realness” in music become if the digital world is the extent of the art’s foreseeable future?

Feelings Have Ceilings is a successfully layered at-home listen for, say, Migos fans on the hunt for something more sensitive. But it would definitely bang better in the club than on the typical COVID-era platform: your macbook speakers. Here’s hoping Ayers will soon have the opportunity to bring the big bass and college athlete swagger back to a more appropriate venue: A real audience.