Shura – Nothing’s Real Review 


When 2Shy came onto the scene last year, I wasn’t sure Shura would travel further than a decent cover by Mumford and Sons in the Radio One live lounge. Yet, her distinctive take on euphoric eighties-ness sets her in good stead for resounding success. In the debut, Nothing’s Real, the 25-year-old displays a spread of lively pop meshed with touching slows, the sharp yet soft tones in her voice intensifying a striking statement to the world electropop.

Shura has previously expressed an admiration of Madonna and Janet Jackson. Their influences are felt throughout an album laced with electronic intricacies and vivacious bursts of disco, minus the outrageous fashion choices. The eponymous opening track fizzes in with a robotic intro and gliding synths, before strings back the ghostly harmonies of the chorus. However, a sharp edge is also quickly established, as behind the buoyant pop are lyrics wired with the fear and anger Shura experienced after being hospitalised due to a panic attack. It’s this slant that sets her aside from the other eighties-pop-rejuvenating hopefuls: a stirring personal flair that doesn’t detract from the fun. The enthusiastic approach flows into the energetic and honest What’s It Gonna Be? which carries a chorus to get your hands clapping and your voice singing. Other influences seem to have taken hold within other tracks, as an underlying sense of Blood Orange seeps through in Tongue Tied. Contrasting this is track 3, Touch. Though it still carts a certain disco funk in the bass, the track is more settled, its glistening harmonies being the song’s greatest asset. The lyrics track an emotional relationship, making this song, and its predecessor Kids ‘N’ Stuff, which relays a similar break down, the hardest hitting on the record. The echoic effect used on Shura’s vocals, as well as her naturally gentle voice, has a profound effect, making the tracks less like songs and more like whispering ghost stories.

Travelling further down the track list, you’ll come across White Light: the album’s biggest gem. Ten minutes qualifies for an extremely long song – one I’d usually give up on by the end of the vocals at 4:45 – but the dynamic and diverse ways in which she explores electronica in those empty minutes is captivating. It takes listeners on an oscillating ride of optimistic highs and depressing lows, before concluding with hidden track 311215, in which her mother isn’t best pleased after catching her smoking. In The Space Tapes, Shura masters an uneasy close. Another essay of a track lasting nine minutes – this one features a dominant robotic voice repeating “kill them all of course”, alongside a recurrent pained shout and an alien-like synth. For the most part, the song is muted synths, giving us time to reflect on a weird and wonderful closer, but also the album as a whole, before being driven into enhanced synthesiser magic.

Shura’s Nothing’s Real hasn’t revived the eighties, but rebranded it. Taking the dancefloor inspirations and layering them with great transparency has added a new face to modern pop. How she has merged moving and brutally honest lyrics and ecstatic pop to make something quite beautiful I can’t quite get my head around, but in one way or another, the album is bound to impress.

Shura – Nothing’s Real: 7/10

Eleanor Chivers

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Comments

  1. Great review for a great album. Definitely sense ’80s pop vibe e.g. Haim, Blood Orange, CRJ’s Emotion here. Her videos are awesome too.

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