Enter Shikari are a British rock outfit hailing from St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. They’ve become well known for the experimental electro-rock melodies that are delivered with precision, and passion. They recently released their fifth studio album The Spark (via Ambush Reality), which was predominantly pieced together after front man Rou Reynolds made it publically known via Twitter that he had been suffering from general anxiety disorder. He intended on using the frustration from this as inspiration to write what he intended to be the band’s most important work.
Enter Shikari is comprised of band members Reynolds (lead vocals/programming/synthesizer/keyboards/acoustic guitar/rhythm guitar/trumpet/percussion), Chris Batten (bass/vocals/synthesizer/percussion), Rob Rolfe (drums/percussion/backing vocals) and Liam “Rory” Clewlow (lead guitar/vocals/percussion).
The album opens with the title track ‘The Spark’, a 50-second instrumental synth combination used as a seguing track to the second track on the album, ‘The Sights’.
‘The Sights’ is packed with catchy hooks, electronic melodies, and smooth vocals that’ll have this song replaying in your head on a loop for days on end. This track gives you very little to criticise, but absolutely everything to love. It’s upbeat, Reynold’s vocals carry throughout with strong instrumental support behind him, and is a great way to officially kick the album off.
If the electronic opening doesn’t have you hooked, the overture of vocals that’ll soon follow surely will! ‘Live Outside’ just might become the most listened to track of the album. It contains the same fluid catchiness that ‘The Sights’ possessed, but is packed with a lot more instrumentally. What’s great about their sound is its open to more than just one demographic; electronic enthusiasts, scream succubuses, and all around music lovers. There’s something for everyone. Even while I’m attempting to piece this together, this track has not left my mind.
‘Take My Country Back’ delivers a combination of both the heaviest, and most overtly political, songs of the album. The electronic noise takes a backseat to the other instrumentals that step out to the forefront, and the vocals within this track are brilliant. You can hear tones of vulnerability throughout the lyrics, which heightens the tracks strength to an entirely new level.
Toning things right down to somewhat of a ballad, ‘Airfield’ further explores the vulnerabilities that were heard within Reynold’s voice throughout ‘Take My Country Back’. Most of the tracks entirely is built upon keyboard and acoustic guitar, creating a tranquil space to get yourself comfortable within before the track picks up with heavy instrumental tenacity to close the track out. My vote for track of the album is laid upon the shoulders of ‘Airfield’.
‘Rabble Rouser’ sees the return of predominant electronic sounds, and synthesized melodies. Instrumentally (outside of the inclusion of drums) there isn’t much that goes on within the track, however the ambiance created, combined with Reynold’s vocals (and those supporting him) throws this track into the mix of becoming a Club Classic. The overtures of bass induced drops and peaking points will have everyone wanting to get up and dance, and might just bring the band some added commercial success from the younger demographic.
‘Shinrin-yoku’ is more pensive in its delivery, slowly building to a larger-than-life feeling delivered from the instrumental talents surrounding Enter Shikari, showing small glimpses into the struggles and triumphs that Reynolds has faced since we last heard from them as a collective. The instrumental build is what makes holds this track in place, ending in a culmination of musical greatness.
‘Undercover Agents’ opens with a familiar slow tempo that has been seen throughout the album, and once again a demonstration of Reynold’s vulnerability through his vocals is showcased. You can hear his passion and heartache as he hands on every word. The instrumental build around him heightens the track’s existence. Not the strongest delivery of the album, but an enjoyable experience none the less.
Returning to a somewhat heavier tone that we’ve heard only once before on this album, ‘The Revolt Of The Atoms’ is a superb combination of instrumental heaviness, electronic mastery, and lyrics that will weave webs within your mind. With all that being said, it’s the electronic hooks of this track that make it memorable, and are some of the best that they’ve demonstrated throughout the album.
‘An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces’ rewinds tones and tempos back to similarities drawn from ‘Shinrin-yoku’, pensive in delivery and painted heavy in Reynold’s angst and struggles. Pain hangs on every note that leaves his lips from beginning to end, and unlike the culminating build of instrumentals we witness in ‘Shinrin-yoku’, this time around we are given a more sombre deliverance. Allowing us within his vulnerabilities makes this album all the more powerful.
The Spark rounds out the same way we began with ‘The Embers’, instrumental synthesized noise that helps ground the listener back into reality. It brings the album around full circle, making the experience complete. Great way to round out a solid album.