Shura – Nothing’s Real review | #FromTheArchive

Inde­ci­sion is a real mood-killer. Shu­ra, Alek­san­dra Denton’s valiant alter ego, knows this only too well, because much of her debut album is about break-ups, make-ups and the com­pli­ca­tions of young love.

Nothing’s Real is a col­li­sion of 80s elec­tro-pop, astral imagery, and ado­les­cent affec­tions. Think La Roux meets Heav­en 17 meets the music and visu­als of a Tet­suya Mizuguchi video game (Rez, Space Chan­nel 5, Lumines): it’s an elec­tri­cal­ly-charged, son­ic flight through the fab­ric of accept­ed real­i­ty, with the ampli­fied roman­tic ecsta­sy of a car­toon (‘What’s It Gonna Be?’) and the trag­ic lows of a soap opera (‘2Shy’).

Your gate­way into Shura’s vir­tu­al play­ground are her stir­ring pro­duc­tions. You feel the ener­gy of an arrival, that feel­ing of set­ting foot in a far­away place, in the dig­i­tal swirls and pops of the title track. You’re chap­er­oned, deft­ly, between the inquis­i­tive oscil­la­tions of ‘Kidz ‘n’ Stuff’ and the 8‑bit crunch­es and invert­ed ‘Holiday’-era Madon­na groove of ‘Inde­ci­sion’. Shura’s music is sparky, kinet­ic and trans­forms her melan­choly reflec­tions on love and loss into a dra­mat­ic war of hearts.

And her words cut deep. At times mat­ter-of-fact (“There’s a love between us still, but something’s changed and I don’t know why”), at oth­ers con­vinc­ing­ly philo­soph­i­cal (“I was nev­er ready for your love / No, I’m no child but I don’t feel grown up”), deliv­ered as they are through her airy vocals, that lie between La Roux and Lit­tle Boots. Anx­i­ety and inde­ci­sive­ness are con­stants in Shura’s rela­tion­ship songs (‘Tongue Tied’). These are not wordy pop bal­lads (“We could be more than just friends / Maybe I was too shy”). They are sto­ries of awk­ward, 20-some­thing love told in a ten­der fash­ion (‘Touch’). And that makes them pret­ty spectacular.

Com­bin­ing 80s elec­tro-pop, video game sounds, and a con­fes­sion­al take on young love, this prac­ticed Man­ches­ter pro­duc­er and singer has cre­at­ed a ther­a­peu­tic album for intro­verts. She’s got the synths, she’s got the vocal style and she’s got her take on “young, sin­gle and still-not-quite-sure-what-love-is”. Take a chance on Shu­ra, and let her show you just how bold she has become by mak­ing music about our deep­est inse­cu­ri­ties. Heck, she may even help you lev­el up.

Nothing’s Real was released on Poly­dor in July 2016. Fol­low­ing the release of her sec­ond album in 2019, Shu­ra has become a pop­u­lar stream­er, help­ing to cre­ate a space for those who iden­ti­fy as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

If you like this artist, check out: Lit­tle Boots

[This is an edit­ed ver­sion of an arti­cle that was first pub­lished on on Sep­tem­ber 8, 2016.]

Image: Polydor/PR