Amid the storm of delayed releases to movies and albums, I found myself quite lucky that my most anticipated release of the spring was still on time. On April 17, 24-year-old artist, Jeremy Zucker, released his debut album, love is not dying. Notably adding to the album-release experience, Zucker went live on Instagram Live and set up a website for fans to synchronously listen to the album starting at 12:05 a.m.
Zucker (pronounced “zoo-ker”), is another bedroom-produced musician on the rise. He’s accumulated over 300 million streams on Spotify and is known for his popular singles, “all the kids are depressed” and “comethru.”
In 2017, he was signed to Republic Records, the division of Universal Music Group home to an impressively long list of today’s hottest artists, including Drake, Taylor Swift, Post Malone and more. Zucker is closely associated with several other popular music acts including Logic, Jon Bellion, Quinn XCII, Chelsea Cutler, Ayokay and 6IX, who are all a part of Visionary Music Group, a management firm essentially dedicated to marketing breaking artists.
Despite his success in the music industry so far, Zucker’s decision to pursue music as a career wasn’t clear for some time. Zucker’s music background dates back to age five, when he started taking piano lessons.
Inspired by Blink-182, at 10 years old, he later quit his piano lessons in order to learn guitar. In high school, he covered songs and dabbled in producing music on the computer through apps like GarageBand. Throughout college, Zucker continued to develop his musical talents, with the secret dream of becoming a musician. However, he pushed aside his dreams in order to pursue what he thought was a more realistic path, a major in Molecular Biology on the pre-med track at Colorado College.
It wasn’t until after he graduated that he chose to go down the music path. Despite no longer being involved in medicine, the characteristics he gained as a pre-med student have proved valuable (as many Hopkins students would expect). In producing his music, Zucker employs an insane work ethic, working six days a week for hours developing new ideas, tweaking his best ones to perfection and scrapping the ones that don’t cut it.
Zucker’s music lies under a genre of sad pop. He himself loves listening to sad music because he enjoys feeling the deep emotions of this kind of music. In his own music, it’s easy to get lost in its full range of emotions.
While there are many aspects of Zucker’s music I love, I most enjoy the fact that each of his musical projects embody a unique, thoughtful and melancholic mood. Fitting in with his past projects, Zucker’s new album, love is not dying, expands upon a new deep and melancholic sound, this time into the larger boundaries provided by an album.
Starting with the dramatic buildup at the end of the first song to the peaceful resolution at the beginning of the second song, the transitions in the album are really great. Later in the album, “full stop” literally echoes the chorus from “not ur friend,” which comes right before it. Altogether, the transitions make the album feel unified under the same sound.
The most popular songs on the album are “somebody loves you,” “not ur friend” and “always, i’ll care.” In addition to being great songs by themselves, each of the songs contain the album’s most relevant messages for today’s melodramatic young adults. With a pleasing repeating pattern of synths, “somebody loves you” is about falling in love with someone online despite knowing they could be much different in person.
While utilizing choppy guitar chords to create a catchy underlying beat, “not ur friend” describes cutting out a toxic friend. Lastly, the calming piano pattern repeated throughout “always, i’ll care” complements Zucker’s lyrics, in which he reassures his college friend that, though he treated her poorly in the past, he’ll always care about her and will try to be a better friend.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “orchid.” It’s soft and gentle even though its lyrics tackle what it’s like to feel helplessly in love. On the song, Zucker creates this gentle feel by placing a damper on his piano. He also even inserted his own recording of crows cawing calmly at the end of the song.
Right afterwards is “lakehouse.” “Lakehouse” starts out rhythmically soft and organized, but at its close, deranges into an explosion of electric guitar and drums. The contrast between these two songs accentuate the album’s ability to reflect both the softness of emotions and the twisting, accelerating potential of emotions.
The dynamic nature of the album doesn’t stop there. “Full stop” starts extremely peacefully, but rapidly picks up at the end, with crashing drums that tug you awake. According to Zucker, that’s exactly the point. The song represents a spiraling train of thought after someone is removed from your life.
Zucker’s favorite song on the album is “julia,” which he’s even noted as his favorite song release ever. The song represents a final moment of closure in his relationship with a girl he’s written about in the past. His process of self-realization is reflected by the developing soundscape of the song, in which new instrumental elements are gradually added to represent dawning realizations that are also reflected in his lyrics.
The album closes perfectly with “oh, mexico.” A rhythmic guitar riff and soft lyrics keep the song grounded. Zucker then places harmonies, synths and bass around it to build the song up and down in a way that matches the album’s ups and downs. The song and album aptly end off on an explicit tone of reflection, as Zucker admits that he still has a lot of room left to grow as a person.
I really love using the word “creamy” to describe music. “Creamy” music, to me, is soft and smooth but periodically heart-wrenching, with unexpected twists and buildups that somehow still add to the soothingness of the music. Creamy describes a mood of music that both comforts and acknowledges my range of emotions.
Maybe not all the lyrics and meanings on the album resonate exactly with my own experiences, but the mood and emotions surely do. So if you’re in search of a melancholic sound to reflect on, definitely give this album a listen, and, while you’re at it, scroll through his full inventory of EPs as well.