Listen up, fellas: ladies don’t like indecisive men. 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 time’s 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 is out now on Polydor Records.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @aarnlee.