Enter Shikari - The Spark
Review by Dom Vigil
Enter Shikari have always been unafraid to speak their minds. The band are no strangers to writing about relevant issues - be it political or personal - but their new album, The Spark finds them exploring uncharted territory both musically and emotionally, making for quite possibly their strongest release to date. Easily their most melodic album, The Spark gives listeners some light in the dark, a sense of hope and community in tough times while simultaneously serving as a sort of therapy for frontman Rou Reynolds and documenting Enter Shikari's journey into a new sound. This combination makes for an emotional, thought provoking journey from beginning to end.
Setting the tone for The Spark is “The Sights,” which introduces a much more melodic and poppy tone than some listeners might be accustomed to, all while Reynolds subtly hints that this album is a new chapter for Enter Shikari. The line, “Now I’ll boldly go into the great unknown” definitely has a double meaning here; in Enter Shikari’s musical direction and Reynold’s own personal journey. Lyrically, the song uses poetic imagery about space travel as a way to convey fear of change and uncertainty for the future while musically, it sounds like a new beginning.
Following the opening track is lead single, “Live Outside” a bright, shining anthem that contrasts beautifully with the lyrical themes of anxiety and depression. “Live Outside” finds also finds Reynolds exploring his full range, from deep baritone to higher falsettos and everything in between.
Don’t let the term “melodic” fool you either - this album does have quite a bit of that frantic energy that old school Enter Shikari fans have grown to love, too. The high energy “Take My Country Back” is wild instrumentally, and lyrically, this is where Enter Shikari shines - in smart, politically driven lines like, “I don’t wanna take my country back/I wanna take my country forward.”
There’s simply something new around every single corner of The Spark. Enter Shikari have quite a bit to say, which means they don’t have the time to say the same thing twice, making every single track unique. The simple, twinkling “Airfield” is a beacon of hope in the middle of the powerful record, as Reynolds urges listeners to stand up and fight for what they believe in, while the grime-influenced “Rabble Rouser” proves that the band hasn’t forgotten their roots and are still up for pushing boundaries with their sound.
The stunning “Shinrin-Yoku” is named after and also serves as a tribute to the Japanese art of forest therapy and sonically, it is a refreshing break after the relentless “Rabble Rouser,” giving listeners a chance to recharge. It’s almost feels as if the song begins in the forest, completely surrounded by nature as Reynolds sings an ode to the earth alongside surreal instrumentals. As the song comes to an end though, it feels like you’re coming out of the calming forest and back into the reality and stresses of life, depicted in the more artificial, hard-hitting instrumentals. Then, after “Shinrin-Yoku,” the stunning and hopeful “Undercover Agents” begins to pick up the pace once more, building energy and leading into the dark and unsettling, “The Revolt Of The Atoms.”
Those who felt touched by The Mindsweep’s closing track, “Dear Future Historians” will certainly find their new favorite in the stunning and vulnerable second to last song, “An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces (In Two Movements).” Although this track almost threatens to end things on a heartbreaking tone, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Near the end of the song, a massive crescendo leads into a beautiful orchestra that finds Reynolds left with nothing but his trembling voice and an acoustic guitar for a tearjerking moment as he sings, “We’ll cope somehow,” but as he repeats this line, it becomes more and more hopeful. “An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces” leaves The Spark on a vulnerable, yet incredibly hopeful note, both for the future of the band and those who might be facing the same struggles documented in these songs.
Arriving ten years after the release of their landmark album, Take To The Skies, The Spark proves that Enter Shikari are still growing and experimenting with their sound while focusing on relevant, important subject matter that fans are sure to connect with. For Enter Shikari “the spark” represents their musical growth as they step into the great unknown. This transformation can be heard all throughout the album, but doesn’t quite make sense until you listen to it from front to back. “The Sights” documents the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety toward change while “Live Outside” expresses the desire for something more. “Take My Country Back,” while at face value is certainly a political track, also serves as the catalyst that keeps things moving forward, rather than continuing to do the same thing over and over again. “Shinrin-Yoku” is the calming transition from Enter Shikari’s previous chaotic sound and “Undercover Agents” finds them really coming into their own.
For listeners, this album serves as “the spark” to ignite a change, whether it’s within yourself, your community, your government, or whatever you can touch and affect. In a time when we need them the most, Enter Shikari have delivered their most dynamic and meaningful album yet to remind listeners that no, they’re not alone and yes, there is something they can do to better themselves and the rest of world.
LISTEN TO: "Take My Country Back" or "The Sights"
STAY CONNECTED WITH ENTER SHIKARI: https://www.facebook.com/entershikari