Review: Shura – Nothing’s Real

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Nothing's Real brings euphoria and vulnerability, drenched in a beautiful 80s haze.

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After flitting between the same three Shura songs for the best part of the last year – her early gifts of ‘2Shy,’ ‘Indecision,’ and ‘White Light‘ – Nothing’s Real is here. Comfortingly, all of her established tracks have made it there, pulling in a progressive album that has become a scrapbook of sorts, put together with this track and that track over time.

Nothing’s Real‘s opening crackles into being with ‘i,’ a track of indecipherable, reverberating echoes. It is offset by a delicate piano melody that gently flutters throughout, before it dissolves into whistling white noise. The title track comes early from Shura, drenched in 80s synthpop. It’s upbeat; it’s space-age; it’s cool. Her vocals are carefully trodden, and as punchy as the beat that ripples through the track as she croons, “I see my heartbeat inside / A television screen.” Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in the books of postmodern theorists, but could Nothing’s Real be a nod to the rise of the television, and the replacement of the real with the television screen? If so, it’s pretty cool.

What’s It Gonna Be?‘ is the perfect 80s teen movie track, which is the mood that inspires Shura’s video for the track, complete with a warming LGBT twist on the traditional high school romance. The beat is racing, with her vocals sweet and wistful. It oozes euphoria, and will leave you wanting to throw off your shoes and dance. ‘Touch’ adds a touch of delicacy where Shura’s vocals are softer, permeated by soft clicks, but the track still has body. ‘Kidz ‘n’ Stuff’ is downplayed too, gently painting a picture of an unrequited desire to grow up and have, well, kids and stuff. It’s soft and vulnerable, as she wonders, “How could I not be / Everything that you need.” The introduction of drums brings the track into more of a dance dimension, with a racing hi-hat and plunging production.

On the back of ‘White Light’ is Shura’s hidden track, ‘311215.’ Over a tinkling piano melody is barely decipherable talking, before Shura’s vocals flutter into being. It’s slightly jolty and stunted, but it’s also raw and beautiful. The track strips back the production found on the rest of the album, emitting a sobering dose of vulnerable emotion.

‘Indecision’, ‘2Shy,’ and ‘White Light’ have all had a facelift for the 2016 album. There are more echoes, the vocals are more powerful, and the tracks are still some of Shura’s best.

Closing Nothing’s Real is ‘The Space Tapes,’ which crackles, gradually forming a collage of spoken voice, vocals, distortions, and permeating drum beats. It’s as though Shura has thrown some paint at a wall and then translated it into music – but it works as a gentle chaos to seal the album.

An album embedded within an 80s time-warp with expert modern production. At times delicately vulnerable, at others racing and euphoric, Nothing’s Real is a polished debut that will put you in a warming 80s haze.

Nothing’s Real is out now via Bsessi Limited.

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Third year English student, Records Editor, list maker and lover of Kinder Buenos.

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