Jeremy Zucker Packs an Exhilarating, Nostalgic Punch on “18”

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Photo: Stefan Kohli

A return to a somewhat-normal summer is finally upon us, which means it is once again time for aimless late night drives with friends, screaming songs about first loves and heartbreaks, and all the wonderful mess in between. If you've been searching for a new addition to the soundtrack of your own coming-of-age film, look no further than "18," the newest release from Jeremy Zucker.

Co-written and co-produced by Zucker's friends and frequent collaborators Quinn XCII and ayokay, "18" details the thrills of a high school student dating an 18-year-old college girl and all the feverish excitement that follows. The short-and-sweet track is a nostalgic nod to its early-2000s predecessors, with driving guitar and drums reminiscent of Fountains of Wayne and Bowling for Soup. It's a musical evolution for Zucker, whose past hits and recent collaborative EP are crooning and muted, driven by acoustic guitar and gentle piano. 

Though Zucker takes a more upbeat turn with "18," his unquestionable talent for storytelling remains unchanged. Lyrically and musically, the song taps into the quintessential rush of young love, serving as a testament to the bittersweet mix of disbelief and exhilaration of snagging someone who is seemingly out of your league.

Lines like "she's 18 / and she does what she likes/ making out with strangers when she's bored with her life" paint the song's love interest as an almost-manic-pixie-dream girl, while evocative descriptions of "staying up till morning under candlelight" imbue the song with the sentimental innocence of a budding relationship. Alternating bursts of the euphoric chorus and gentler verses juxtapose the dizzying balance of intoxication and fragility inherent in any first love experience.

Alongside the buzzy high of high school love is the shadow of the potential comedown. As Zucker laments, "I wonder when she'll stop coming home / I hope she doesn't leave me here alone," the confident pulsing of guitars and drums slide into a more subdued thrum. Zucker's velvety falsetto closes out the song repeating, "she's 18," before it abruptly ends, echoing the sharp end that the relationship will likely face.

This latest release precedes the release of Zucker's anxiously awaited sophomore album, set to drop later this year. If "18" is any indication, Zucker's next record will be truly irresistible. 

Listen to "18" below:

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