Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Shura – The Stage

All the Amnesty’s a stage…


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[6.55]

Iain Mew: How many people have I got to know online and then met in person? I must be approaching a hundred, but even now each meeting comes with a tension around the transfer to sharing real space with someone both familiar and not. How much stronger that tension was when I met someone after we had already declared our feelings for each other, the risk and reward so much greater. That’s the feeling of “The Stage,” an intoxicating dance all ready to go but with an underlying hesitancy and weirdness, its skips and jumps marking the surreality of the situation. It’s a view of what it’s like doing a normal thing like going to a show, but with someone who you fell for via their words alone who is now really there and real and taking up real space next to you, with the potential first kiss tension of every brush of contact on top of that. I’ve never heard the experience captured so perfectly as in the opening lines “Are we gonna kiss? Exciting/Promised you my lips in writing” and the way Shura contrasts the uncertainty to the formality and permanency of the written word. We signed a contract in the reality we had and moved to another one, and it meant everything and nothing until affirmed there. “The Stage” gets to that giddy affirmation as its tension resolves. Filled with intensity and magic, Shura declares as “done with music” and departs with her girlfriend stage right for more kissing. They leave us as the ones dancing, the feeling generously opened outwards in its fizzing synth coda. 
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Leah Isobel: Ever the gentleman, Shura sees her paramour from across the room and makes her move — would she like to Uber back home and, perhaps, kiss? The gentle synth rain swells as the pair make their escape. The faked fade-out as the two dance alone at home is probably the best part, a coy acknowledgment that there’s more happening when the camera stops rolling; it’s perhaps a little too subtle for my taste, but I can’t begrudge them their privacy. After all, a real gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.
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Kylo Nocom: Like Usher and Carly before her, Shura believes in kissing as both a gateway to fucking and a pleasure all in itself. Her swooning, accompanied by Elton John keys and reminders of the time Kevin Parker wanted to work with Kylie Minogue, makes love into something infinitely expansive and heavenly. In the context of death’s presence throughout Forevher, her giddiness reads as a brilliant moment of defiance, the temporariness and almost-doomed nature of queer romance established and yet pushed aside quickly in favor of the undeniable fun of just kissing for the evening. I’d imagine she’d agree with, of all people, Sufjan Stevens: “Kissing is madness! But it’s absolute paradise, if you can find a good kisser.” Only Shura has the grace to make it sound like it could be paradise forever.
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Ryo Miyauchi: Shura’s come-ons have a slight performative gesture to them, like she nicked them straight from a pop song and is trying it on for size. It echoes her production style which, too, borrows heavily from ’80s pop and funk. Her entire thing ends up having a communicating-via-mixtape feel, telegraphing her emotions and intentions with the help of another voice. No matter how direct she gets, that’s not lost in “The Stage,” and its curated pop construct makes the scene and dialog a bit too lyrically perfect to be true. That said, all the power to Shura if this is how she wants to remember her first date: the encounter feels electric, full of moments that spoken words can easily ruin.
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Natasha Genet Avery: “And it’s so romantic/and I’m so pathetic” is really the best case scenario for a first date, and Shura’s lyrics encapsulate the type of horny, goofy energy that compels you to leave your favorite concert and proclaim that you’re “done with music.” But “The Stage””s treble-heavy electro-soul stylings convey no urgency, proving a tad too sanitized for its subject matter.  
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Wayne Weizhen Zhang: A cutesy portrait of a relationship’s do-or-don’t moment of intimacy, muddled by Shura’s anaemic, drowsy vocal take. 
[5]

Alfred Soto: She treats “The Stage” like an experiment on her lust, even emphasizing she’s “done with music.” A statement of fact, alas, as this plodding mid tempo number shows. Maybe she’s going for early eighties Olivia Newton-John? In any case, this isn’t the Shura of “Tongue Tied.”
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Shura can make some quality pop, but this is too understated for too long, and once it blossoms, the payoff isn’t enough. 
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Kayla Beardslee: A distillation of the glee and dizziness of a crush, intermittently dissolving into an instrumental haze that moves from sweet to sexy as the synths rise to meet Shura’s voice and the protagonists leave the club. “I promised you my lips / In writing,” she sings in the the opening lines: by the time listeners reach the song’s exuberant, wordless ending, we can easily imagine Shura fulfilling that promise.
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Nortey Dowuona: A thumping bass stab slides over puffy eyed drums with crushed piano jabs with little whispers of synth, washed away with a torrent of acid rain guitar, then back to the loop, a smattering of synths spread all over Shura’s soft voice as a washing room of background vocalists slip in her vines, which spread with a spiraling embrace of synths, bass, piano and drums and shimmering synth whisks away Shura and spins in a bicycle motion with little sprinkles of Shura spread as she slowly emerges from the spiral and glides down the vines into a hole of guitar overdubs.
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Vikram Joseph: It’s hard to say whether it’s the shift in style to smooth, jazzy R&B, or whether it’s just that she’s writing about being blissfully in love rather than anxiety and painful missed connections, but it’s hard not to feel like Shura’s music has lost something in transition. Despite (or maybe because of) its emotional flux, Nothing’s Real felt like a record of possibilities — I still get butterflies listening to it — and for the most part forevher is too placid. “BRKLYNLDN” worked because it felt deliciously tingly and uncertain, but “The Stage” — sonically pleasant though it is, with lush strings, plinky piano and a Christmassy feel — feels comfortable, and not a little dull. Also, it’s a song about seeing goddamn MUNA on a perfect date, and you’re “done with music” and want to get out of there? I mean, of course you want to make out, but surely seeing a band you love with someone you’re falling in love with is one of the most rapturous experiences you can have on this earth? Can’t relate, babe.
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