Monday, March 25th, 2019


Park that car, book that flight…


Ashley Bardhan: So. Fucking. Smooth. Creamy, slick, sticky, other adjective that could also apply to supermarket cake. I love supermarket cake, and I love this song. Shura’s lyrics and vocal delivery are pretty classic sexy R&B crooning (“I could pretend I’m Jesus/That I’m gonna heal your body”) — it reminds me of mid-2000s Usher or Justin Timberlake. Especially with a title as corny as “BKLYNLDN.” Unlike mid-2000s Usher or Justin Timberlake, Shura is a woman singing about another woman, and that feels exciting in an otherwise familiar environment. Also, the groovy tempo change and whining saxophone parts are hot. 

William John: “This is an emergency,” murmurs Shura, before an ascendant orchestral flourish that moves with the same giddiness as does that avalanche of heart-shaped eye emojis when someone decides to respond flirtatiously to your Instagram story. When you’re deep in the nucleus of that kind of desire even the smallest things, like sending or receiving a picture, can enliven the most upending tension. “BKLYNLDN” considers a romance that’s transcontinental, a subject at the centre of 2004’s Before Sunset, probably my favourite film. …Sunrise and …Midnight have things to say about these matters too, of course, but it’s …Sunset that is flooded with the most portent, where two people pregnant with vulnerabilities and infatuation are only willing to release them at the last possible moment, at a point where the somersaults in their stomachs finally become too unbearable. We as viewers aren’t privy to the fireworks that must have ensued after that Nina Simone song ended and the credits rolled, but Shura’s coda serves as the most satisfying form of fan-fiction. (Queer as hell, of course, in adherence to fan-fiction tradition). There, amongst rocketing squawks that’ll make your whole body shiver if you’re not careful, is where all of that restlessness gives way to delirium, where the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred in the most ecstatic way.

Tobi Tella: At first I wasn’t sure I got this; such a passionate declaration of queer love in such a chilled out, mellow contradictions. Raw and real feelings buried under heaps of Auto-Tune. But that last minute, an explosion of passion, emotion, and squeaky synths completed it beautifully — I finally felt transported to Shura’s world.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Depictions of romance presented in raw, filtered through an art school whose curriculum includes 22, A Million. “BKLYNLDN” has its own tricks too — the intro’s silences force an acute awareness of the now. Between tastes of sweat-caked skin, you can hear your breaths in such moments of repose. Only with such hyperawareness does the unglamorous, un-Hollywood nature of intimacy feel riveting, personal. The bassline sputters filigrees as calculated and loose as the song itself, its small but firm pulses like fingers running across your spine. As Shura sings of a lover who’s traversed the Atlantic, the urgency and joy of their reunion is made palpable, the song’s title radiating with clarity. At first glance, the two abbreviated places appear as an indeterminate cluster of letters. Upon closer inspection, they represent two bodies entangled: inseparable lovers.

Jonathan Bradley: “In New York,” an Australian trendspotter once reported, “Thousands of bearded hipsters scamper around Williamsburg or Brooklyn reading Kerouac and drinking whisky.” It’s the kind of geographical goof that comes of imagining places as fashionable synechdoches, and while Shura’s pairing of the borough of Brooklyn and the metropolis of London isn’t quite an error, it seems forced; a foreigner fascinated with the exotics of specificity. (Most of us would say “New York to London” — or, if we were thinking transport — fly out of LaGuardia or JFK, both in Queens. And wouldn’t “Brooklyn to Brixton” hold alliterative appeal? Will there be a sequel, “Staten to Swindon”?) “BKLYNLDN” maintains its languor and, as Shura songs often do, sounds like an Instagram filter, which was a bit more charming when I still used Instagram filters. The tourist really jumps out in the coda, which is sunny and blissful like the first day on vacation. “We could take the subway,” Shura suggests, her cool slipping away. “To the beach!” It’s like a Big Apple version of Lizzie McGuire’s adventures in Rome in The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Alfred Soto: She could’ve picked a less unwieldy title, but the real trouble is how this electronic midtempo R&B track doesn’t suggest the distance between Shura and her lover, nor does it hint at erotic urgency. She sounds stranded. A pity — Nothing’s Changed remains one of the better synthesized callbacks of recent years.

Iris Xie: “This isn’t love, oh/This is an emergency” is a fun line, well-suited for a lush atmosphere that is filled with trepidation, desire, and awkwardness. The chorus is sweet, with how it suddenly opens up and brightens up with that mysterious scratchy synth in the back and a twinkling piano, and exposes the feeling of elation after holding out your breath for a good outcome. The outro is an adamantly happy ending, and the clumsiness suits the tone. Shura’s giddiness from the first two-thirds of the song has finally burst, collapsing the long-held composure into a glowing sea of feels. 

Vikram Joseph: The woozy, cinematic haze of “BKLYNLDN” initially feels like a big detour from Nothing’s Real‘s more direct alt-pop tendencies. But the more I listen to it, the more it makes sense; she’s still drawing substantially on Blood Orange’s oeuvre (there are some instrumental flourishes that feel iconically Dev Hynesian), but now there’s unmistakable notes of Solange and Frank Ocean’s Blonde on her more complex palate, and once it starts to sink in it’s a real treat. A long-distance romance straddling hot summer nights on either side of the Atlantic, the stakes feel dizzyingly high; “This isn’t love, oh, this is an emergency,” Shura sings, a beautifully overwrought line which captures exquisitely the intensity of acute longing. The abrupt segue into a giddy, jazz-hued coda feels like the sort of reckless thing that people in love feel they can get away with because the universe is with them, and as such it’s a lovely, hyper-real touch, immersing us into their happiness.

Reader average: [8] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “Shura – BKLYNLDN”

  1. Welcome Ashley!!! A great first blurb :D (I too also love supermarket cake and this comparison)

  2. Welcome Ashley! Killer blurb and great blurbs all around.

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