Suzanne is a New York-based electronic indie singer-songwriter whose voice and melodies are entrancing. I stumbled across the single track, “You Can’t Have Me,” on Spotify and was instantly hooked by her gentle vocals and poignant lyrics. Needless to say, I was excited to see it was part of an EP. I’ve been listening to Underwater for a few weeks now and throwing content at my friends, because I’m hooked.
The EP is short, but jam-packed with intense beats and lyrics that tug at the heartstrings. It opens with the titular “Underwater,” which features layered vocals and minimal instrumentals. Suzanne begins the song in English, but transitions into Korean once the music swells in, accompanied by the sound of water. The song is short but effective in establishing the mood of the album, melancholy and reflective.
“Swimming” continues this trend, although it features more instrumentation as well as Korean lyrics straight from the beginning. Each synthesized note seems to ripple out like a drop of water in a puddle, until eventually the beat establishes a firmer rhythm. Suzanne sings in an airy, almost whispering, voice, imploring someone to stay with her.
At the chorus, her voice swells and maintains that electronic layering heard in “Underwater.” The hypnotic rhythm of “Swimming” contrasts with the following track, “You Might,” which establishes a heavy and slow beat early on. Suzanne sings in short bursts, with such lyrics as, “I need to find my way out / of this endless despair. / Would you help me?”
I would be lying if I said “You Might” wasn’t possibly my favorite track on the album. I think Suzanne’s talent truly shows in this song’s chorus, where her high notes gather strength and then gently fade from multiple layers into one as the sound of a piano kicks in. The song is sad and yet hopeful, with its minimal lyrics but beautiful and almost jazzy piano.
“You Can’t Have Me” is sung almost entirely in English and begins with Suzanne’s gentle voice and a piano. It is currently her most popular song, and it’s no wonder why — it’s absolutely stunning, and chock full of raw and emotional lyrics, such as the chorus, “You can’t have me, baby, when I can’t have you, too / Don’t pull me into you when I’m trying to give up loving you.”
It’s at this chorus that we start to hear other sounds: a light buzzing, the muffled sound of people talking. In the next lines, Suzanne introduces the electronic vocal layering that’s used as a stylistic element throughout the entire EP, and the lowness of it contrasts beautifully with her naturally high and gentle voice, making it seem fragile like the lyrics suggest, until it drops off to leave her voice alone again. She uses these elements sparingly in this song and it pays off, emphasizing a certain hollowness and loneliness which are reflected in the lyrics.
The EP ends with “How,” a song which enters slowly and softly only to immediately pick up with the same vocal manipulations heard briefly in “You Can’t Have Me,” with a sound that I think will appeal to fans of Aseul. Lyrically, “How” reflects the questions a heartbroken Suzanne has after the events of “You Can’t Have Me,” wrapping up the narrative of the EP.
Suzanne’s “Underwater” is a melancholy, electronic exploration of heartbreak, and I love every minute of it. It is brief but expertly crafted, and I highly recommend you give it and her latest single, “Unfortunately,” a listen.