Enter Shikari – The Spark
Released: September 22nd, 2017
Enter Shikari lineup:
Rou Reynolds // Lead Vocals, Synth
Liam “Rory” Clewlow // Lead Guitar, Backup Vocals
Chris Batten // Bass, Backup Vocals
Rob Rolfe // Drums, Backup Vocals
Enter Shikari online:
The lads. The boys. Enter Shikari are back with a new offering and goddamn they’ve been on fire lately. With two critically acclaimed albums behind them (2015′s The Mindsweep and 2012‘s A Flash Flood of Colour) it was going to be hard for them to escape prying ears and judgemental opinions with The Spark, but with a band at their level of popularity and progression, we all waited with baited breath to see what they had to share now… and after a minor hiccup, things for the awesome foursome improved impressively.
The album eases into your listening experience with the instrumental track ‘The Spark‘ which is an ambient filled, background noise that sets you up for the rest of the album. Picture yourself walking through large gates at a classy as fuck community full of rich people and thats the vibe you get from it but once ‘The Sights‘ begins, all those feeling dissolve and we’re greeted by an uptempo keyboard/synth intro and Rou Reynolds‘ delightful voice pulling us in. If the band’s most recent albums could be described as animals, Flash Flood would be a Gremlin (evil one), Mindsweep would be a Bald Eagle and The Spark is a Care Bare with an important message that needs to be heard.
Bad analogy I know but this album has that feel all the way through where you can jump around and the room and dance to it, but there is purpose and meaning behind the lyrics, unlike half the dancy/pop shit on radio at the moment with no substance. Rob Rolfe shines throughout this one with his drumming that fits perfectly to the song and just as you’re getting into it, it ends and ‘Live Outside‘ begins… now, I’ll admit this, when I first heard this song, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I thought it sounded wayyy too poppy for the band and sounded like nothing I had heard of theirs in the past. But something happened on the same day it was released, I sat there listening over and over again to it and it was about the 10th time I heard it in full, studying the lyrics, watching the video and the reaction my body had when I started to sing along, I was hooked. This would have to be one of the catchiest songs of 2017 and a definite Top 10 Songs of the Year contender. The pulled back
screaming yelling at the end of the track still manages to get the point across without having to venture into unclean territory. Absolute banger, but it’s not even the best song on the album… we’ll get to that later.
‘Take My Country Back‘ eases you in slowly with synth before erupting into a signature Shikari styled song complete with fast paced tempo, borderline rap singing and riffs aplenty. For those wondering if the band have left their old sound, I’d tell them to get this song on and to turn it up loud, this is the boys still holding onto their earlier roots while offering a newer, softer approach to expressing themselves through song. I feel like this will be the song America sings when they impeach Trump. When ‘Airfield’ starts up, you may be surprised to hear Rou singing a higher pitch, almost choir styled with a backing piano following his words precisely. The tone of this track is borderline lullaby but the build up towards the end of it makes it more so comparable to a song like ‘Constellations‘. It’s good, easy listening, but not as good as the latter of the two. ‘Rabble Rouser‘ is a fucking genius, genre crossing assault on the senses that almost combines all the elements which got Enter Shikari to where they are now, it’s a very synth filled, potential club banger that also doubles as a song I really want to hear live at a festival like Reading or Soundwave (RIP) because it sounds massive. Think Rap/Rock/Trance with a big scoop of paranoia, political activism and BONGOS and you’ve got yourself your new favourite song. It’s catchy, riffy, full of bass and a highlights where the band have come from and where they are now.
‘Shinrin-yoku‘ begins with yet another ambient lead up, complete with trumpets, a Jamaican drum (maybe or something of the equivalent) and Rou’s signature sing/talking that evolves into a perfected vocal range and hold. This guy has really put in 110% to give us an album where we can hear the amount of work and training he’s done to get his voice ready for something other than screaming or heavy poetry. The last third of the song speeds up but at times feels a little too cluttered with the amount of instruments, synth and singing going added in but it’s good enough to keep my attention for the entirety. ‘Undercover Agents‘ brings back the pop rock, uptempo vibes from earlier in the album but doesn’t stray too far from the band’s unique style, ‘The Revolt of the Atoms‘ is a more darker and heavier song which could have passed as a leftover from The Mindsweep, but doesn’t sound disjointed or out of place surrounded by it’s brothers and sisters on this album. Complete with enough electronic sounds to give Michael Bay a run for his money, it’ll be interesting to see the band pull this one off live as I can just imagine everyone in every direction losing their shit as the song builds up towards the end in what can only be described as poetic political panic.
But alas we’ve reached the last song and as I mentioned earlier, this is the song you’ve been waiting to hear about. Arguably the best song on the whole album is the tear inducing ‘An Ode to Lost Jigsaw Pieces‘ which borderlines ballad territory as frontman Rou Reynolds bares his soul for the world to hear and goddamn it’s beautiful. There is no criticism I have for this 10/10 track about loss, grief and moving on, more notably about the passing of Rou’s Nan. Every single time I listen to it, I’m moved to the core and my eyes fill up with tears as I relate with what’s being sung to me and the pain this man has gone through. Having lost my mother recently, I have been waiting for a song that strikes a cord and brings back all those emotions that overpowered me during that difficult time and this is it. There’s a string section. Emotionally driven yelling. Acoustic guitar playing. A defeated and sad sing/talking at the 3:47 mark that captures your attention indefinitely as you hear the struggles this bloke has gone through losing someone so close to him. With lyrics like:
“in my chest there’s a thundering pain, it feels like Gods in there having a migraine, and this is tough man, I’ve lost more pieces of my jigsaw, it don’t seem worth making now Nan”
…and not to forget…
“I’ll keep, keep keep my mind occupied on the here and now, coz you’re not with me, but that’s okay, we’ll cope somehow, we all cope somehow”
but then something happens and the whole mood of the song changes direction and becomes more of a hopeful, strength building release to take us out for the last 30 seconds of the song. It’s an incredible listening experience and I have so much more respect for Rou than before for putting himself out there like he has and kudos for keeping in his sniffling/crying at the very end. It shows he has a soul and isn’t as immortal as many of us expect musicians to be. ‘The Embers‘ closes off the album and allows you to breathe a huge sign following such an experience with ambient electronics and fire embers flickering in the background. Thats the best way to explain this album, it’s more of an experience and journey than just a typical song after song record. Enter Shikari aren’t afraid to try new things but 9 times out of 10 they’ll nail it, so I stand corrected for my doubt in this album prior to hearing it. Make sure you get a copy, stream it or check it out because if this is the future of songwriters around the world, we’re in good, capable hands.
Enter Shikari – The Spark tracklisting
1. The Spark
2. The Sights
3. Live Outside
4. Take My Country Back
6. Rabble Rouser
8. Undercover Agents
9. The Revolt Of The Atoms
10. An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces
11. The Embers