A triumph in the experimental, the provocative and the bloody fun – we’d expect nothing less from these boys.
At the inception of The Spark is its titular track. Poised and synthetic chords serve to establish an atmosphere for the record. Shikari have never and most likely will never be ones to bang out an album that is just read song by song – that would be too easy. The release is its own separate entity, a journey through the senses and mental states. Throughout any release by this band, you will likely experience a plethora of emotions that span the entire spectrum of the human sensory experience: fervour, concern, passion, pride, rage and remorse – the list is endless. The Spark satisfies this notion.
In the run-up to the album’s full release we had been treated to Live Outside, Rabble Rouser and, most recently, Undercover Agents. Here, we have three songs that will offer us listeners a peek into the variety of dynamics that we can expect to hear throughout the record. Live Outside is a pulsating and bouncy romp, boasting a chorus that manifests in one’s mind for hours on end. It’s radio friendly, but it doesn’t shy away from what’s true to the boys – a commentary on our subservience to tech and our obsession with the virtual – the music still very much holds a purpose and sends a message.
Rabble Rouser is my personal favourite, a chunky riff and the spiteful spits from Rou Reynolds are a mainstay in the band’s sound and long may it continue. The tenacity of the track will make you want to twat a Tory in the face – the preferred reading, I’m sure. Undercover Agents is where Shikari’s diversity becomes incredibly apparent. Opening in a melancholic state, Reynold’s vocals have an urban twang that will ensure relatability to the masses, but he also has the ability to carry his voice in a way that oozes beauty, it’s spine-tingling, particularly when the falsetto adopts the fore. The pace picks up and hope is injected into the music, gang vocals from the whole outfit always make for a fun listen too.
It’s difficult to identify any other standout tracks here. Not in a bad way, they’re all stellar, it’s a testament to the prowess that Enter Shikari possess in the art of songwriting. They own their craft and have honed it to perfection – I dare you to try and assign these guys a genre – they transcend any prescriptive parameters that you may conjure up. This doesn’t come without its downfalls. There’s no denying that Shikari’s music will forever be divisive, but their success to date is no mistake. They’re here on merit, and they’re winning people over on the daily. If you’re so set on your cookie-cutter, monotonous pop that you intrinsically reject anything outside of that, then it’s your loss and I’m sorry.
The Spark is littered with peaks and troughs. Airfield and An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces are gorgeous hymns that will mellow you out, but still give you plenty to think about. At the other end of the auditory spectrum, Take My Country Back and The Revolt Of The Atoms are bolshie and angst driven songs that will undoubtedly get you chanting along with the pump of a fist for good measure.
This newest album is at least on par with anything else in the band’s discography, if not better. I know that sounds like a lazy summary, but it’s nigh on impossible to compare the various albums by Enter Shikari. As I explained, previously, each album is its own separate entity. Embrace this one, it’s thoroughly enjoyable and the tour that is to follow is sure to be a riot.