When I was sixteen years old, I was a moody, unpleasant, know-it-all who thought I knew everything. Well, although I still feel that way (I’m working on it, okay?), there are certainly some parts of myself that I grew out of, and I’m thankful for that. Just as everyone else is, I was a different and far less mature person when I was sixteen. Unlike the other teenage years, sixteen is the year of the drivers’ license: the year of freedom. Whether people realize it or not, this age is a year of important intellectual development (something something power, yada yada responsibility). For the first time, one’s intellect starts becoming something to be proud of, and with that, demonstrating to others the capabilities of one’s mind becomes a cool thing to do, despite the fact that at age sixteen the vast majority of this showing off comes across as overly eager and as an overcompensation. I think this is where Nick Spina, a sixteen-year-old artist from Fullerton, California, who just released a new EP titled A Beautiful Death, runs into trouble.
Now don’t get me wrong; when I was sixteen, I could hardly figure out the built-in effects on my VOX solid state amp. Let alone was I writing my own music, including all instruments, recording it, mixing it and mastering it such as Spina does.
I do feel, however, that based off of the description of the album he provided, along with the descriptions and aesthetic of his Bandcamp page, that he tries to give himself a certain mystique and image that feels very sixteen to me. Along with this, I feel that the music itself contains a lot of elements that try a little too hard to be “weird” or “different” and (to me at least) do not come across as very natural.
Now, with all of this being said, both the production and experimentation on Spina’s newest release are very impressive for anyone, let alone a sixteen-year-old. The sheer amount of sounds Spina was able to produce on tracks such as “Beautiful Death” and “Indigo Children” went way over my head. I believe that, along the way, Spina focused too much on the sonic experimentation and not enough on the melody and overall flow of the songs. Ironically, the opposite is supposed to happen with a sixteen-year-old. I would say that the problem Spina has (doing too much) is perhaps the best problem one can have. Sonically, this album is very impressive. There is a lot hidden in each song, and I think I heard something new with each listen.
For Spina to make the music that I think he wants to create (given his influences), he should emphasize the melody and structure of the songs first, and then allow for the experimentation to sculpt itself around the already existing song. Given his age, I expect that to not be a problem for him, and given what I have already heard, I would say that Spina has a bright future in music, and I am excited to hear what he continues to put out and create as he grows up. Spina is way ahead of the game, and I feel that tine will only make that more evident.
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