In his first solo EP since summer, (2018), Jeremy Zucker has released a 5-song compilation of reflective, analytic, and soul-touching lyrics combined with the boundary-breaking approach to production that we’ve come to know him for.
Less than 2 years after the release of his second album CRUSHER, Jeremy Zucker has expanded his discography with a collection of songs that pay homage to the production style and lyrical themes of his hugely successful debut album. However, he simultaneously explores previously untroubled waters on is nothing sacred? in the form of undisguised, unapologetic sociopolitical messages. Zucker has described these messages as a “call to action.”
Kicking off the EP is ‘cindy’, a beautifully disjointed, slow-burning track that deals with the insecurities and guilt surrounding platonic relationships. Starting with distant, distorted electric guitar and a call-back to themes of insomnia documented in Zucker’s 2018 hit ‘comethru’, ‘cindy’ is an adventure that soon opens up to bring the full force of Zucker’s instrumental and vocal arsenal. This is ephemeral, however, as it regresses back to its closed, faded conformation for the chorus.
Like multiple trains of thought battling to reach the forefront of his mind, Zucker’s clearer, crisper vocals interrupt the more distant and faded lines throughout. Lyrically, Zucker addresses topics of emotional vulnerability, confronting his struggle with intimacy, questioning his value as a friend, and professing his promise to be a better one. Whilst it’s unlikely to be the “song of the summer” anytime soon, Zucker manages to balance these themes with a memorable chorus, with “and I won’t – let you down – just remember” lingering in the listeners’ subconscious long after the song’s end.
Following on is a more collected, honest, and perhaps more articulate song: ‘internet crush’. This song was first teased on Jeremy Zucker’s 2022 tour and released as a single in February. An elegant fingerpicked melody on acoustic guitar plays in the background and is later built upon with subtle bass and drums, as well as orchestral motifs previously used by Zucker on brent ii, his previous collaborative EP with Chelsea Cutler.
The bridge of ‘internet crush’ gradually builds from soft vocals and a minimalistic guitar to potent void-shouting vocals and a multi-layered melody. It does an incredible job of encapsulating the possible detrimental effects of long-distance relationships on the mental well-being of each party involved, and the battle to keep the often overbearing emotional aspects of such relationships suppressed when looking for practical solutions. It’s a composed collection of thoughts, contrasting the volatile nature of ‘cindy’.
Track 3, ‘i need you (in my life)’, is exactly what is needed to be following the two slower tracks that precede it. Without a doubt the most upbeat on the EP, this song has a consistent drum beat accompanied by strong power chords. It’s a summer playlist contender for those of the alt-pop persuasion. That said, it wouldn’t be a Jeremy Zucker song without introspective undertones at some level of the song’s composition, and the lyrics, as per usual, are where these undertones are found.
At this crucial midpoint, Zucker continues the early themes of the emotional impact of modern relationships in the EP and adds to this with hints of the more existential and socially analytic themes explored later in the EP, with one of the opening lines “The world is fallin’ apart and I don’t give a shit, ‘Cause you were the best I was an idiot”, considering the apathy towards wider-scope issues in times of personal troubles, particularly those related to relationships.
This theme had been teased on his Instagram page @jeremyzucker prior to the release of is nothing sacred?, where he detailed how he wrote the EP as a “call to action” and that “for a while, [he] thought it was cool to not care.”
In the same Instagram post, the 27-year old writes, “I think we’re losing sight of what makes it so special to be a human in this world: caring about people. Being selfless, loyal. Appreciating what’s in front of you.” It’s clear to see that this sentiment was a strong inspiration for ‘OK’, the next track on the EP.
‘OK’ principally manifests as a friendly check-in, with lyrics like “are you eating? Are you sleeping alright?” and a central empathetic message of “I just want you to be OK” in the chorus. Combine that with an upbeat drum pattern, lo-fi guitar, and subtle, misty touches to the production, and you have a song perfectly apt for both crying to in the tough times and for subconsciously bopping your head along to in the good ones.
This is not the first time Zucker has written a song that acts as a platonic love letter to the well-being of friends and loved ones. His 2021 album CRUSHER featured ‘Cry With You’ centred around the same message, as well as ‘always, i’ll care’. The latter delicately explores the contrast between wanting to be present for peers and not being in a position or headspace to be in times of personal mental health struggles and commitments.
Finally, we have ‘a dying world…’, which features perhaps Zucker’s most overtly political outcry in a song to date. The track opens with a hazy, sombre electric guitar riff, followed by opening lines that hold nothing back in denouncing fast fashion and its issues regarding child labour and human rights. Like all the tracks on this EP, it is the subtle touches in production that give this song a tranquil atmosphere, built upon throughout by the gradual additions of drums, other instruments, and additional synthetic effects in production to the initial guitar riff at the beginning of the song.
Centrally, Zucker expresses clear frustrations at the politicization of climate issues as well as a call for a kinder world in this closing track of the EP. The former is explored in a concise yet profound way in each chorus, where Zucker sings “When the air starts to make us sick, it’s not a matter of politics.” The latter involves Zucker raising the hope that the next generation raised “in a dying world” will still be able to “learn to love better than us.” In both instances, he illustrates his natural ability to verbalize complex ideas and concepts in a succinct way lyrically.
All in all, Jeremy Zucker has continued his incredible track record of producing songs that speak to the soul in a way only a deep talk with a friend at 3am can top. Whilst these songs may well come to achieve success on an individual basis, they are best enjoyed in the contextual ambience Zucker has created so brilliantly in this EP.