Shura – ‘Nothing’s Real’ Review

The former Manchester City youth footballer is in her element on this sleek debut of ’80s-indebted pop

A month ago, Alexandra Denton released one of the most memorable music videos of 2016 for her Class A earworm ‘What’s It Gonna Be?’ The unabashedly cheesy clip is a crush story inspired by films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and in it she and her twin brother Nick fall for each other’s heartthrobs. These four minutes encapsulate all of Shura’s best qualities – humour, an unassailable passion for all things retro, and an approach to youth and love that’s both heady and steady.

‘What’s It Gonna Be?’ makes the capriciousness of young love sound thrilling, whereas its neighbouring track ‘Touch’ is a gem of a torch song that bears the pained voice of experience. That level of contrast stretches across the whole of her debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’. The 24-year-old’s synthy, guitar-backed pop tackles a broad sweep of issues surrounding love and relationships. ‘Indecision’ finds her frustrated at a lover’s hesitance; on ‘2Shy’ she’s unable to share her feelings with her crush; ‘Kidz N Stuff’ has her bathed in post-breakup anguish. Occasionally she goes on the attack too – on ‘Tongue Tied’, she teases, “I know you want me / I could be all you want.”

Shura’s sleek production unifies the lot under the umbrella of ’80s pop: the icy ‘Make It Up’ recalls [a]Fleetwood Mac[/a]’s ‘Everywhere’, while the sublime funk of ‘Tongue Tied’ seems to take cues from Blood Orange’s ’80s revivalism. A glimmer of early Madonna lurks here and there too: ‘Holiday’ is a clear precursor to the bouncy ‘Indecision’, while on the disco-thump of ‘Nothing’s Real’ Shura’s voice channels Madonna’s nonchalant delivery as she recalls a panic attack (“Game over: nothing’s real”).

The album’s bittersweet introspection is complemented by samples of audio recorded by her and her documentary-maker dad: a four-year-old Shura screams in frustration on ‘Nothing’s Real’; she and her twin brother chat as children on ‘(ii)’; her Russian mother tells her off for smoking on ‘31.12.15’. These clips give the album even more vitality and personality – precious commodities in pop, but ones Shura appears to

have in spades.

Details

Record label: Bsessi Limited
Release date: 08 Jul, 2016