July 8 2016 (Polydor)
Words: Alison Mack
This debut album from West London-by-way-of-Manchester girl Alexandra Lilah Yakunina-Denton - better known as Shura - has been one of the most eagerly awaited of the year, coming in the wake of her introductory single, the poignant ballad 'Touch', back in 2014. And the rich and infectious vein of 80s-influenced pop that runs through the Greg Kurstin and Joel Pott-produced 'Nothing’s Real' makes for a fine first delivery indeed.
Fusing a Madonna-esque sheen over misty electronica, reverberant synths and sparky basslines, while lyrically there's a welter of unrequited love, heartache, hesitation, questioning and unease running through the 13 synth-pop tracks, with songs such as 'What's It Gonna Be' (“if you let me down/let me down slow”), Indecision', 'What Happened To Us' (“You were somebody to me once/but now you’re a fiction/someone that I made up”), 'Tongue Tied' and '2Shy' giving a clue into the mindset of the lyricist.
From the shimmering electro of ’Kidz ‘N’ Stuff’, to the R&B groove of '2Shy’, through to the disco funk of the title track, and closer ’White Light’ which extends over seven minutes of dancefloor pop exuberance, Shura's place in the forefront of electronic pop artists is assured.
Not a flawless record, but then again, few are, but ‘Nothing Real’ does serves as voyeuristic look into the psyche of Shura. And with bags of potential evident in every seam, it's one that begs a return with the next album.