Friday, July 1st, 2016

Shura – What’s It Gonna Be?

A spot in our top fifteen, that’s what.

Claire Biddles: Finally the “Boys of Summer” remake that the current 80s synth revival deserves. The soft synths and stuttering guitars evoke a thousand beaches and freeways, but in “What’s It Gonna Be” the only one present in this classic setting of summer pop romance is the object of affection: When Shura sings, “I’m on my own, you’re at the beach hundreds of miles away” the environ the song inhabits is revealed as an uncertain fantasy.

Tim de Reuse: This is one of those instances where a song gains emotional impact from sheer straightforwardness because the approach fits the subject; after all, a song about feeling nervous and unworthy wouldn’t pack as much impact if it made every effort to be clever. The verse, with its charming, pathetic refrain of “Let me down, let me down slow” makes a better chorus than the actual chorus does, and captures very succinctly the self-defeatist head space of an unrequited crush. When the song tries to get more energetic, though, it throws these weather-channel synth strings everywhere, in an attempt at a big climax that sounds more like something I’d expect to hear when on hold with an insurance company.

Taylor Alatorre: Mitski echoes this sentiment in one of her most incisive tweets: “like yes music is magic but also I study this f’ing craft.”

Alfred Soto: The clipped, worried “I’m On Fire” guitars and transparent shimmer of the voices conjure a summer of anxiety, of wondering who’s checking out whom.

Lilly Gray: The plucky demand in the chorus and the sweet request in case of rejection pull you along as if someone’s got your hand and is swinging it, half-dragging, half-close. There is a painful sliver of risk hidden in rush of crushin’ hard, but the emotional turbulence is part of the fun–hence the bounciness here, a cheerful take on like-liking someone that offers an out for all parties involved. The song just glances the surface of the downsweep after infatuation dissipates; this is all bubbles rising, yet to pop.

Peter Ryan: I have a spotty track record with this artist — worse when she does numbed out R&B impressions, better when she’s gliding over something springy. In spite of the fact that this is a Shura-Greg Kurstin-Joel Pott co-production, and in spite of Kurstin’s knack for complementing the artist, it feels more like she’s gotten assimilated into Kurstin’s sound rather than the other way around. The beat’s more straight-ahead than hers typically are and the synths shimmer a little too brightly; as a whole it’s near-indistinguishable from what he’s been doing with Tegan & Sara for two entire albums now. Nondescript though it may be, the backing partially resolves Shura’s tendency to let a devastating lyric get politely smothered by languid production. The track’s pep brings her mixed-up nervy pining to the forefront, amplifies the terrifying frankness of lines like “I don’t wanna make it out like it’s no big deal,” and pushes her to convert desire into action. I’ve been partial to this sound for probably too long and my tolerance for it is finally waning, but this is as strong an argument for its sustained utility as we’ll get.

Ryo Miyauchi: While her tour mates Tegan & Sara tackled a similar issue with “Boyfriend,” I’m moved more by Shura’s take on “What’s It Gonna Be?” The Quins are who I wish to be; Shura is more who I am — passionate but too shy to show it. It takes guts to admit to things like “I don’t want to let you love anyone else but me” out loud to someone you don’t want to lose. Sara made the process seem easy or at least adult. This song is just awkward anxiety from thinking about the risks. It’s more how it would unfold for me, all the way to how she ultimately lets the other have the last word. No matter how much confidence she and I can muster, and perform urgency the best we can, we both can’t quite break our own habit of politeness. Assertiveness — that’s what we can hope to learn from Tegan & Sara.

Thomas Inskeep: This sweeps you up in the headiness of teenage romance, dance/pop with an ’80s kick reminiscent of Betty Who’s first album. Dreamy stuff, and the video is perfection.

Will Rivitz: Even without its adorable video (I’m trying and failing to wipe a stupid grin off my face as I type this), “What’s It Gonna Be?” is still a perfect summer song. Not just in sound – it’s excellently executed synthpop through and through, tapping the same nerves as The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s less ferociously distorted side — but gut reaction too. It’s music that makes you want to take long walks with your crush, it’s music that makes you want to sprawl on a towel in the grass, it’s music that makes you feel blissfully alive.  If we’re still keeping tabs on The Official Song Of The Summer: 2016 Edition, this is the strongest contender I’ve heard.

Will Adams: That feeling when someone links you a song saying, “I KNOW you’ll LOVE this it’s SO up your alley” and you listen to it and listen again to make sure and then a third time just in case and you respond “yeah it’s fine :/”.

Reader average: [8.88] (9 votes)

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9 Responses to “Shura – What’s It Gonna Be?”

  1. ryo your blurb is perfect thank you

    as are the rest of these! I got a bit of Adams’ feeling when I first heard this but I’ve come around to it in a big way

  2. aw shit, I figured this was gonna get a lot of love but I thought there’d be maybe one other low-ish score with me

    thing is I had a tough time explaining what is basically an anomaly in my music taste and it seemed dumb and irrelevant to mention that when I looked at the title I couldn’t not think about En Vogue, but if I had to stretch, I would say that maybe my numbness to this is just oversaturation of this genre; then again I felt the same way (still mostly do) about Chairlift’s “I Belong In Your Arms”, which also scored really high here, and that was four years ago

    what I’m trying to say is that all these blurbs are fantastic, and yes the video is pretty nice

  3. Wow I wish I blurbed this!
    It actually does remind me of “I Belong In Your Arms” in a lot of ways, and while I can relate to the above comment (The Greatest is actually my version of that blurb :/), I happen to love both songs.

  4. i hear this and all i can think is HAIM HAIM HAIM

  5. @wayne probably in no small part to the fact that the video thumbnail looks almost exactly like the Days Are Gone cover

  6. @wrivz omfg

  7. worth downloading even on my current Albums Take Overnight To Download Welcome To 2003 internet connection, tbh. so like a [9] here.

  8. I think you forgot to put this one into the high scores sidebar, my dear and negligent folks.

  9. Yeah sorry about that (and all the other missing songs), will fix as soon as we can!