Efrain Arias-Medina Jr.
Jeremy Zucker is a front-running Gen Z pop artist and producer, with over 15 million Spotify followers and countless song streams. The 25-year-old is behind indie-pop songs such as “comethru,” “all the kids are depressed” and “this is how you fall in love.” His debut album, “love is not dying,” came out last year, and Zucker is already back with his sophomore album.
On Oct. 1, Zucker released “CRUSHER.” The 12-track album showcases his emotional journey to self-discovery. In an interview with Hype Malaysia, Zucker explained that his debut album focused on sympathy for others over himself. “CRUSHER” takes on a different perspective.
In the interview, he said this album is “the realization that I wasn’t treated well and was blatantly mistreated.” Zucker said this awakening contributed to a theme of anger in the songs.
The album opens with “i-70,” which features steady drum beats and catchy electric guitar licks. This song describes Zucker’s emotional drive on Colorado’s I-70. He sings about driving by “Midwest iconography,” like cemeteries, Dairy Queens, and the Colorado sky that appears to be on fire. Throughout this drive, Zucker sings, “Who has to know if I don’t keep drivin’ home?” This track is an incredible opener for the album because it immediately dives into memorable rhythms and melodies with emotionally vulnerable lyrics. It represents the album as a whole, and it prepares listeners for the emotional journey they’re about to embark on.
The second track is titled “Deep End.” Zucker opens up with listeners on this track, singing “I don’t wanna have to pretend for one more minute.” The steady, slow-paced verses give way to a high-energy chorus proclaiming he’s “gone off the deep end.” The confessional song ends with the haunting lyrics, “It’s not my year, I’ll disappear to anywhere but here.” This track pairs powerfully exposed lyrics with an energetic chorus and beat, sharing a common theme with other ballads on the album.
The following track is a slow ballad titled “Cry with you.” Zucker released this piece in August as the third “CRUSHER” single. In the song, he promises the subject that as long as he’s with them, he’ll cry with them. “Nobody knows you like I do,” Zucker sings before diving into the chorus. The lyrics describe a person who is struggling, and Zucker is promising to remain by their side through the storm. “Nothing’s forever, I hope you get better,” Zucker sings before ending the last chorus with light acoustic guitar strums. This track is a break from the previous high-energy anthems and slows things down in preparation for the following relaxed songs.
The following mellow, yet heartfelt piece, “I can’t look at you” opens with guitar loops and steady percussion. Zucker seems to be reflecting on a failed relationship in this ballad, singing, “I let friends go, never enemies / But never like this, now you’re dead to me.” The acoustic-driven piece,“When I’m Around,” describes Zucker’s loneliness and anxiety in a toxic relationship. These slow songs showcase Zucker’s ability to create eclectic, diverse tracks intertwining with each other.
Track six, “Therapist,” is a memorable, intense breakup anthem. Zucker released it Sept. 17 as a single before the album release. Zucker lets all his frustrations out in this song, singing “I’m waiting for the hurricane / You’re spinning out, and I’m in the eye / Dying inside.” This track is co-written and co-produced by indie-pop musician Ethan Gruska. It opens with balanced drum beats and accompanying electric guitar riffs. The instrumentation leads into an intense chorus that listeners could sing in the car or dance to in their bedroom. This is one of the most notable tracks off the album, with its popping rhythms and poetic lyrics.
Zucker continues to reflect on a relationship ripping apart at the seams with his next two songs. Both tracks seem to describe a partner’s character changing. “Sex & cigarettes” opens with a bass-driven lead and transitions into acoustic strums, with a memorable guitar riff at the bridge. Zucker continues to reveal more about his relationship, singing “I don’t know who I’ve fallen for” and “I’m not afraid of love, I’m afraid of us.” This track tones down the energy in the previous song, leading easily into the following lighter tracks.
The following song, “HONEST,” opens with light drum beats and acoustic guitar strums. Zucker sings about a partner who isn’t being honest. “Cast me out with the cynics and the saints all alike/You’re a runaway truck, I’m a guy on a bike.” He ends the emotional piece pleading with his partner, “Just be honest with me, babe.” Zucker released this track in July as the second “CRUSHER” single. This track conveys a sense of complacency with the relationship, making listeners feel like they’re inside Zucker’s mind, getting a sense of his emotions during this tumultuous relationship.
The next track, “18,” opens with heavy electric guitar strums, leading into a catchy, energetic chorus. Zucker released this euphonious, summertime anthem in June as the first single from “CRUSHER.” Pop artist Quinn XCII and DJ Ayokay wrote and produced the song with Zucker. This is a song that fans could dance to at concerts or blast at full volume in their cars. The song describes a 16-year-old Zucker who is in a relationship with an 18-year-old at his high school. The subject has rocked Zucker’s world. She “does what she likes,” makes out with strangers when she’s bored and “doesn’t mind driving home from campus for a younger guy.” Zucker sings, “she takes me to a whole other high,” ending the song with one looming thought — “I hope she doesn’t leave me here alone.” The memorable rhythms, storytelling lyrics and strong instrumentation may make this track, along with “Therapist,” one of the most unforgettable anthems on the album.
Zucker slows things down with the following song, “Sociopath.” This relaxed track is a collaboration with R&B artist Keshi. Zucker opens the song softly singing, “You are a grade-A / Sociopath in my mind.” He continues to reflect on his mixed emotions as the song picks up in the second verse with light synth. He closes out this reflective piece singing, “If you ask me how I’ve been / I’m ready to lie / If you asked me how I am / I’m doing alright.” This light song leads into the following track well.
The next track, “Don’t come over, I’m an a–hole,” opens with a mellow beat and soft singing from Zucker. The laid-back instrumentation gives way to deeper lyrics as Zucker sings, “I digress, it’s more than depression” and “The situations I fantasize won’t help me.” This song gives listeners a glimpse into Zucker’s emotional life and builds off the vulnerability presented in the album’s previous songs. However, the beat and instrumentation are not incredibly unique like in other tracks. Adding a captivating guitar riff or synthesizers would make it more memorable for listeners.
“No one hates you (like I do)” closes out the album. The track opens with light synth, steady percussion and guitar loops. Zucker successfully pushes the envelope with the chorus, using heavy synth and electric guitars to create an echo-driven, emotional chorus unlike anything else in his discography. This closing track is a tasteful ending to the album, which experiments with musicality like never before in Zucker’s career.
The intense, emotional album “CRUSHER” exceeds the expectations set by Zucker’s debut album, “love is not dying.” This album demonstrates his ability to exceed musical expectations, and it gives listeners a taste of Zucker’s music like we’ve never had before. Beyond the wide use of instruments, Zucker’s vulnerable, emotionally-driven lyrics perfect the album. The storytelling ballads transport listeners into Zucker’s world. He can go from a lively piece like “I-70” to a slow-paced song like “Cry with you” on the same album and it works. This sophomore album depicts Zucker’s ability to write heart-wrenching lyrics and consistently create new songs with cohesive instrumentation styles.