Shura's ‘forevher' Is an Earnest Depiction of Nascent Love
Expanding her electropop sound with soulful grooves, Shura finds inspiration in personal experience on forevher.
16 August 2019
Following her sparkling electropop debut Nothing's Real, Shura returns with an expanded musical palette and mellower tone on her sophomore album forevher. Although tonally similar to her debut, Shura has swapped out much of its upbeat alt-rock foundations for more relaxed soul grooves. She's also embraced an earnest lyricism as she explores her personal experience of a long-distance relationship. While her expansion into a mellower sound does not entirely land, forevher is an enjoyably varied album of catchy dance songs, summer jams, and introspective ballads.
Forevher is at its best when Shura embraces the dancefloor. Leading single "religion (u can lay your hands on me)" is a groovy culmination of synth strings, funky guitar strumming, and breathy vocal lines that create a catchy electropop dance number. Like much of the album, its lyrics are peppered with religious imagery employed to evoke charm and sexiness; "I wanna consecrate your body, turn the water to wine." The semi-title track "forever" is more restrained, but rests on a punchy bass and explosive chorus of shimmering synths and wistful vocal harmonies. The standout track is certainly "side effects" with a superbly catchy chorus, inspired vocal melodies, and a masterful arrangement that simultaneously sounds dreamy and groovy.
Alongside these dance tracks are breezy summer jams that add a looseness to the album. The minimalist "control" is the perfect laidback accompaniment to a careless road trip, with dreamy instrumental passages that are, regrettably, heard scarcely elsewhere on the album. "The stage" transforms from a plodding, cabaret-style piano line into a floating jam with shimmering synth solos, vigorous auto-panning, and deep phase-shifting. Album-closer "skyline, be mine" verges on psychedelic pop as it bursts into a wild jam replete with swirling heady synths, echoing guitar slides, and effect-laden vocal samples.
The album partially slumps in the middle as its dance songs and jams give way to more languid, mellow grooves. Often dragging, these songs rest too strongly on their lyrical content and Shura's, admittedly pleasant, voice over engaging melodies and rhythms. Fortunately, Shura explores other avenues on these tracks. "Princess leia" introduces more varied instrumentation and melancholic lyrical themes, but remains a somewhat uninspired ballad.
Similarly, "BKLYNLDN", released as a single, feels more laborious than moving, and transitions into an upbeat extended outro that is, unfortunately, more engaging than the main song. "Tommy" opens with a bittersweet love story recounted by an elderly Texan but continues as a somber lament that loses its poignancy as it verges into melodrama. These tracks certainly add variety to the album, offering a reprieve from the shimmering electropop of other tracks, but are overshadowed by forevher's more animated songs.
One of the biggest strengths of the album is its earnest sensuality. Drawing from Shura's recent experience in a long-distance relationship, forevher provides an introspective and wholly personal illustration of its anxieties and thrills, as trivial actions – like returning phone calls, texting and flying – are turned into profound confessions of nascent love. The album is not lyrically ornate but rather simplistic, doing away with flowery imagery for stark descriptions of physical sensuality that bring an earnest poeticism to the album through their sheer charm and relatability. "Get a car to my place / And spend the evening kissing, kissing," Shura sings on "the stage". This lyricism well captures the naivety and joy of early romance (a romance that is refreshingly queer) and, although clear-cut, feels deeply heartfelt.
Forevher is a highly refined album of surprising variety. Catchy hooks abound on its dance tracks, playful instrumentation more in line with psychedelic pop soak through its summer jams, and starkly sincere lyricism uphold its mellow ballads. Its more vibrant tracks are certainly the album's strong point, but even its more languid songs have an enjoyable authenticity.
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