Few bands have managed to cultivate chaos and capture audiences across genres quite like Enter Shikari. With roaring synth hooks driven by punk-rock riffs, Enter Shikari have established themselves as pioneers of unique soundscapes, marrying contrasting styles with ease while lyrically nodding to the pressing social quandaries of our generation. A follow-up to 2015’s The Mindsweep, The Spark launches Shikari even further into uncharted territory--an appeal to the ears and hearts of would-be mainstream listeners.
From start to finish, there is no denying how distinctly “Shikari” this album is--Rou Reynolds’ powerful vocals lead the plunge through an electronic ocean, accompanied by soothing harmonies and electrifying counter-melodies. On first listen, it was easiest to note what is missing. Where breakdowns and shouting typically erupted on previous albums, you’ll now find a more-reserved, calculated Shikari. At multiple points throughout The Spark, I anticipated a build turning into a heavier breakdown, but I never found the satisfaction of an all-out free-for-all. The closest thing to a breakdown on the whole album is either the 808-heavy beat at the end of “Rabble Rouser” or the very short chug “Shinrin-Yoku” finishes with.
The Spark flows well, even with vastly different vibes across songs. Parts of “Undercover Agents” seem like they would fit seamlessly into a playlist at the club on a weekend, while “Airfield” likens moreso to a toned-down ballad, maintaining a slow build that eventually culminates into an emotional climax. Out of the sonically diverse tracklist, my personal favorites are “The Sights” and “Rabble Rouser.” These songs, along with the single “Live Outside,” are massively catchy tracks that remained stuck in my head for days on end. “Take My Country Back” is also a favorite, and definitely the most overtly political (and overall heaviest) song on the album.
“Shinrin-yoku” and “An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces” are more pensive tracks that continue to build until they are larger-than-life, giving glimpses into the struggles and triumphs Reynolds has faced since we last met on The Mindsweep. By the end, the only song I did not particularly enjoy was “The Revolt of the Atoms.” Perhaps “The Revolt of the Atoms” seems overly jarring after the groovy melodies of “Undercover Agents,” or perhaps it’s just not my style. Either way, that’s just my take, and, ultimately, it’s up to the listeners to decide for themselves.
Aside from the two tracks that are just a melodic intro and outro, The Spark hosts a mere nine songs. Some folks may find this album seems short, ending rather abruptly just as it starts to take flight. However, on the whole, longtime fans will find themselves satisfied with the record, despite its lack of heavy breakdowns and riffs of albums past. There is a new level of clarity and focus that emerges on The Spark, and I am fairly certain it will draw in new and old listeners alike. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it opened the doors to an entirely new audience for Enter Shikari, but only time will tell.
The Spark Track Listing:
01. The Spark
02. The Sights
03. Live Outside
04. Take My Country Back
06. Rabble Rouser
08. Undercover Agents
09. The Revolt Of The Atoms
10. An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces
11. The Embers
Run Time: 41:11
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Check out the band's new video for the single "The Spark"