For two years, the soundtrack to all the times I looked out the window in a car, hung out in my dorm with the string lights on or enjoyed a quiet sunset with my friends was the same: brent.
Collaboratively written and performed by Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler, brent is an EP containing five songs. Up until a few months ago, I had thought that this EP would forever stand alone as a collection of perfect, chill “bedroom-pop” songs.
Fortunately, a few months ago, I learned my playlist of five songs would soon double in size, after Zucker and Cutler announced they would be joining forces once again to produce a sequel EP to brent, titled brent ii. After its release this past Friday, I was happy and unsurprised to discover that the songs suitably coupled the sacred first EP.
Zucker and Cutler are both members of the rising “bedroom-pop” movement. The movement supports the increasing popularity of young musicians who grew to fame after producing and releasing their music from the comfort of the homes.
Zucker is a 24-year-old recent pre-med graduate from Colorado College. Throughout high school and college, he experimented with producing music with digital audio workstations (DAWs), like GarageBand, and finally chose to pursue the career after graduating. Utilizing the work ethic he likely honed in college, he worked six days a week to write and eventually produce his debut album, love is not dying, which he released last year.
Cutler went to Amherst College and, like Zucker, had an early interest in music, playing multiple instruments as a child and later trying out DAWs as well. Four years ago, after getting invited to tour with Quin XCII — who performed at the University’s virtual Hoptoberfest just this past year — she quit her academic and athletic career at Amherst to pursue music. Cutler released her debut album, How to Be Human, last year.
Zucker and Cutler’s music had shared commonalities even before their first EP together. Both artists primarily write about problems that people from their age group can relate to: relationships and love. As a result, their music is emotionally intimate, vulnerable and soft, yet rhythmical and easy to dance to all the same.
It isn’t often that the place where the music is recorded is as cool as the songs themselves. Their first EP, brent, was actually written in a recording studio built inside an old, converted carriage house in Connecticut. When writing their first album, Zucker and Cutler slept on couches and air mattresses for a week. Nonetheless, it must’ve been a memorable experience, seeing as the pair took a trip back to write brent ii.
Brent ii holds the same mood as brent does. Starting off is “this is how you fall in love,” which describes a couple taking the next step in their relationship. The song establishes the new EP’s calm mood, with the song slowly building from a soft electronic piano up to a guitar, bass, beat and electric guitar. The beautiful harmony the artists strike at the end of the song highlights the chemistry between the pair.
The next song, “parent song,” is both artists' loving ode to their parents. The song is a thoughtful and relatable reflection on how hard growing up and moving away from family can be, especially when trying to strike the balance between leaving to become your own self and staying in contact with your family. It’s definitely a song that a lot of college students would be able to relate to.
Personally, “emily” is my favorite song off the new EP. Just like my favorite songs by Zucker, including “lakehouse” and “full stop,” “emily” introduces abrupt changes in dynamics. Twice, the song abruptly changes pace from calm, picked strings and soft singing to loud strums and screamed lyrics. Reflecting the dynamics of the song, Zucker and Cutler wrote the song to explain relationships once the honeymoon phase passes, when conflict begins to grow and there is potential for the relationship to fall apart.
The end of the album ends with solo songs from both Zucker and Cutler. Both tunes bring the separate and unique aspects of each artist’s music into brent ii. In “brooklyn boy,” Zucker expresses the pains of a relationship, while Cutler’s solo, “the stars,” follows the sad, hopeless end of a relationship.
At the end of it all, I’m so happy to have more songs to keep me cozy during those reflective, dimly lit moments of my life. Just like in brent, brent ii displays the emotions of sadness and heartbreak shared by Zucker and Cutler’s coming-of-age experiences, and the EP is capable of warming a whole room.