Release Date: Aug 16, 2019
Record label: Secretly Canadian
The London musician's second record queers up and skewers the traditional love song, beautifully articulating the giddiness of romance Shura's first record, 'Nothing's Real', was one of the more underrated moments of 2016. Sonically rich, and structured flawlessly, it files neatly next door to La Roux's ' Trouble in Paradise' in terms of sheer punch . While it didn't turn its creator into an arena-baiting superstar, it instead showed the enormous potential of an artist who understands exactly how to spin pop gold, bringing a touch of humanity to everything she does.
Though Shura longed for connection on her debut album, Nothing's Real, its delicate, lonely songs often hinted that she hadn't really fallen in love yet. On Forevher, finding the right woman -- whom she began talking to while on tour in America and eventually moved to New York to be with -- illuminates and animates her music. The way she blew up her life to be with her special someone is reflected in the sound of her second album.
It’s been three years since Aleksandra Denton, aka Shura, released her debut album, Nothing’s Real. It was one of the best albums of that year, full of lovelorn alt-pop songs that, in the case of tracks like Touch and What’s It Gonna Be, already sounded like modern classics. Forevher is the follow-up, and as good as Nothing’s Real was, its successor feels like a huge step forward.
Shura emerged in 2014 as a pop star with a contradiction at her core. "Touch," her lo-fi disco debut single, was a sort of "Dancing On My Own" for a new generation: an eminently danceable song about watching somebody else dance, about wanting to touch one another but being unable to because you're paralysed by your own thoughts. Her 2016 LP Nothing's Real was full of pop songs about unfulfilled promise and missed connections.
The opening song off Shura's sophomore record has a total of twelve words and a few sparse piano chords. It's only a minute and some change, but that's me, just a sweet melody ideally introduces the listener to forevher. It's a song that almost has the tone of a lullaby. What's notable about the inclusion of a one minute intro is that it tells us that the album is a bit looser and more sprawling effort than what Shura's made before.
After what feels like an eternity since the release of debut 'Nothing's Real' in 2016, Shura is back with Forevher, a slick second effort that packs in 'all the feels' of a new relationship as well as a bop or two. For many LGBT fans, it felt like Shura was missing in action during 'Twenty-Gay-Teen', which saw artists such as Hayley Kiyoko, Troye Sivan, Years & Years and Janelle Monáe all release rainbow-soaked bangers. However, the wait was worth it.
A s with Shura's debut, Nothing's Real, her second album is front-loaded. After a brief intro come Forevher's three best songs, followed by a slump it never quite recovers from. Side Effects is the clear highlight, a perfect collision of aesthetic and emotion. The English songwriter's spacey, super-melodic, immaculately produced pop casts a wonderful spell when it works, particularly on lead single Religion (U Can Lay Your Hands on Me) or the swooning, filtered coda to The Stage, as endless as summer seems in early July.
Shura's 'forevher' is an intrinsic redefinition of the modern love story. It dissolves perceived boundaries of gender and sexuality, acting as an emotional blank canvas onto which listeners can project their emotions. Born in the early stages of a burgeoning transatlantic relationship, and assembled in London alongside a close-knit circle of new and old collaborators - co-produced alongside Joel Pott (who's worked with the likes of George Ezra, Mabel and London Grammar), the album is fascinating and hopeful.