Shura, real name Alexandra Denton, sacrificed a possible career as a Manchester City footballer to focus all her efforts into a career in music, and we’re very fortunate she did. After dropping some great singles over the past year or so, Nothing’s Real delivers good on its potential to become one of the most complete, satisfying debuts in recent times.
The album continues the 80s-inspired pop-rock revival that has spearheaded Topshop’s in-store playlists in recent years - in fact “2Shy” was one of the lucky few tracks to get the Shazam-treatment on a visit last year. The dial is swung more towards New Wave synths and Madonna than Fleetwood Mac, but in most other ways Shura is very much the British answer to Haim. Both are compliments - the music at Topshop is consistently the most tolerable part of the experience and I bloody loved Days Are Gone.
Things kick off in remarkable fashion, “Nothing’s Real” and “What’s It Gonna Be?” both sound like long-established classic tunes recently defrosted for public appreciation, all titanic melodies, pulsating bass lines, sweeping synths and strings, guitars that swagger and twitch with funky abandon. If there’s a better 1-2 punch to launch a record this year, I’ll eat something that shouldn’t be eaten.
There’s barely a dip in quality from then on. The slower tracks like “Touch” massage the ears with their movie soundtrack appeal. The aforementioned “2Shy” is a glacial slice of pop perfection with a hook that just won’t quit. “Tongue Tied” and “Make It Up” have a perfect marriage of musical urgency and laid-back melodic excellence. Album-closer “White Light” is a sprawling prog-pop behemoth that’s still playing in my head, and exactly the sort of track that so many rock bands attempt with an overly heavy hand and completely ruin.
Honestly, there’s quality all over this record and I’m’a shut up now so you can go listen to it.
- Andy West