Review: Shura – Nothing’s Real

It seems like it was only yesterday when the name Shura popped up in my Facebook news feed with the snog-tastic video for ‘Touch’. To slightly paraphrase the lyrics of the song, I can’t believe that it’s been two years, and I also can’t believe that at the time the track went viral on both Soundcloud and YouTube, Shura was still unsigned.

The success of ‘Touch’ landed the half-Russian, half-English singer, songwriter, and producer a deal with a major label, and now Shura’s eagerly awaited debut full-length Nothing’s Real is upon us, and it’s nothing short of a profusely delightful, quality pop record by one of the most refreshing and commercially appealing artists to appear in recent years.

I can’t remember the last time I cured my blues-of-the-moment by jumping up and down, dancing in my pajamas, but here I am doing just that – and it’s working! Nothing’s Real radiates a kind of innocence, long-forgotten in the sea of twitter beefs and nip slips of the current pop music and culture climate. It’s a record about being young, falling in love, having your heart broken, and facing the anxieties that come with the experience. It feels genuine and contemporary, while drawing upon the timelessly familiar and irresistibly naïve sounds of eighties pop music.

The album’s title track is a certified stand-out with its restless high energy disco beat and its backstory of a particularly nasty panic attack. Equally exciting is ‘White Light,’ with its almost 8 minutes of understated drama that never gets boring. ‘What’s It Gonna Be?,’ ‘Indecision,’ and ‘What Happened To Us’ are perfect examples of the emotive young love and almost-but-not-quite cheesy pop-iness of the album, while ‘Touch’ sounds as personal and as real as it did when it first came out two years ago. The intimate and honest feel of the album is amplified by interludes sampling childhood home recordings and the closing ‘New Year 311215’ deals with the topic of the changing relationship with one’s parents, as both sides grow older pairs with the fear of losing the ones closest to you.

Nothing’s Real is a solid debut from an unlikely pop star, but that’s what makes it such a pleasure to explore. As Shura embarks on a busy summer touring schedule and on a North American tour with Tegan and Sara later this year, songs from the record are bound to dominate radio waves throughout 2016. That horrible panic attack may have inspired the song ‘Nothing’s Real,’ and subsequently the album’s title, but the end result is a record that feels especially real, relatable and effortlessly fun.

Nothing’s Real is out today on Polydor.

Written by Raya Raycheva