At first I was a bit hesitant to return to reviews with a band which I have written pages and pages on before but The Spark by the St Albans band Enter Shikari isn’t something one can simply ignore.
Since the release of Live Outside and Supercharge (ft. Big Narstie) I was a bit taken aback with the new direction the band were heading down. In a bit of a conflict with one of my previous articles (where I pretty much SLATED Fall Out Boy’s new sound) I found Shikari’s new sound to grow on me, quite a lot actually. Heavier isn’t always better and The Spark proves this very well.
Singer Rou Reynolds has previously been very open about the struggles he was going through before and during the writing process of the album. In an interview with Buzzmag, Rou said: “The weirdest thing was coming out of a really intense period of insomnia and anxiety, then writing music and a lot of it was coming out really up-beat and positive. I didn’t really know what to do because I didn’t want to fake being positive when it wasn’t how I was feeling.”
With The Spark you may not be able to expect heavy hitters such as Zzzonked or Mothership but what you get in return is a very honest album. Such songs as the melodic and piano-driven Airfield or the almost tear-wrenching softness of Ode to the Lost Jigsaw Piece (written about the singer’s late grandmother).
But, as anyone who knows the band can testify, it isn’t a one trick pony. From the 80’s-style synth to the heavy drumming by Rob Rolfe, guitar riffs by Rory C and some lovely bass by Chris Batten, the album can really throw you. One example is the seamless switch from the aforementioned Airfield to the almost club-banger Rabble Rouser, throwing in some grime-styled boppy synth notes and some killer lyrics. No other band I know could even possibly get away with: “I’m on stage with a face like a sack of screwdrivers.” Absolute madness!
It isn’t a Shikari album without some great sing-along tunes. Undercover Agents, Live Outside and The Sights brings crowds together, howling like wolves at some points!
It is interesting to see this new direction, and live it really was a treat. The boys still pull out classics but mixed together with the new, some would say, cleaner sound. Either way it has been worked on meticulously and it really has paid off to the last second.
The sheer variation of the band’s back catalogue is mesmerising, to go from the scrappy hardcore delight of Take To The Skies (2007) to the pop-leaning The Spark (2017) one can only dream of what may come next. A country album? Who knows at this stage.