You’ve got to hand it to Enter Shikari, these four friends from Hatfield. Few bands from the British alternative scene have managed to achieve such dizzying heights of acclaim and success while still maintaining such fresh ideas, social awareness and playful sense of humour.
What we have come to expect from the band is a frantic mix of post-hardcore (a kind of melodic, complex and aggressive punk) strewn with synthesisers and nods towards multiple genres of electronic music, from trance to dubstep, littered with crowd chants and anthemic choruses. Singer Rou Reynolds’s strong, eclectic singing/rapping/shouting style is consistently shocking, surprising and delightful.
Fifth album The Spark continues this tradition more confidently than ever. After a euphoric instrumental intro the album kicks off with “The Sights” and lead single “Live Outside” which present a less typical, softer, electronic pop. However, the jagged elements are, as always, just waiting around the corner. Lyrically these tracks deal with dissatisfaction with the status quo, a yearning for change and a need to escape to something better.
The album’s first real bite comes with the fiercer track “Take My Country Back”. It addresses Britain’s right wing media and the racist anti-immigration rhetoric of politicians during last year’s EU referendum. Playfully recalling one of the slogans to the refrain is “Don’t want to take my country back, I want to take my country forward.”
The rest of the album plays out excitingly, with notable moments coming from “Airfields”, a comedown ballad of recovery from defeat, “Rabble Rousers”, a stark electronic drop and “The Revolt of the Atoms”, sounding like something from War of the Worlds. Notably, the lyrically odd (and potentially ironic) contemporary pop-stylings of the final song “An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces” features a heavy hearted Rou singing in a broken voice “I miss them like the majority of modern mainstream music misses an original metaphor for missing someone.” The creativity and intention to expose, twist and invert musical clichés is constantly present throughout this album.
On the whole, The Spark is not as political lyrically as their previous albums in a literal sense but it has a very committed message of awareness and positivity and it is an incredibly enjoyable listen. Enter Shikari have once again proved they are one of the most important bands around.