In terms of releases that seemed to come out of nowhere, Susan’s “Amateur Lover” may be one of the most surprising. Not only had I never heard of her before, but the rest of her EROS album is more the way of chill r&b (perfect for the right mood, for what it’s worth), so I expected this to be more of the same. Instead she delivered what has every right to be a pop hit.
It’s weird to say that you felt jolted by what can only be described as an dreamy, ethereal soundscape, but that’s exactly what it felt like when the synths and off-kilter beat combined at the track’s outset. It’s attention-grabbing and things only get better with a pre-chorus that picks up the tempo, paired with a staccato-esque vocal delivery that punctuates every word. That was a unique way of incorporating a build while also keeping tension as it’s not especially obvious what’s coming next. Fortunately for a melody lover like me, “Amateur Love” then transitions into a chorus that bursts forward into pop excellence that’s underscored by a haunting, amost echoing string of percussion hits along with a strong sustained bass that contrasts well with the existing established atmosphere.
Perhaps as important as anything is Susan’s own versatile and sultry vocal that she uses to maximize the song’s potential. It’s pensive and curious when it needs to be and direct and expressive when it needs to be, and combined with easily relatable lyrics, it’s hard not to see it as a release with mass appeal.
After my initial listen to “Amateur Lover”, my main takeaway was that if a mainstream female pop soloist released this, it would absolutely blow up at least internationally if not domestically. I know that is unlikely to happen regardless of the quality of the song, but for me this undeniably 2021’s first hit that I can’t stop listening to, and I hope at least as many people get to enjoy it as possible.