Review || Enter Shikari - "The Spark"

Enter Shikari return with their critically acclaimed fifth album, "The Spark", released on September 22nd 2017 via PIAS.

Vocalist Rou Reynolds admitted that, a couple of years ago, he went through a period of insomnia and panic attacks, which he attempted to ease by self-medicating. It didn't end well. Adding the (head)spinning turn of events around the world to his personal struggle, he mustered the creativity to compose a widely diverse album. Noticeably less aggressive than the previous material, it paints in great detail Reynolds’ mindscape –and that’s what you need to keep in mind when delving into the album. Certain songs, like “Airfield”, provide the necessary tranquility when getting round a panic attack while others tackle political contemporary issues and “Take My Country Back” is a prime example. Another prominent element in the album is experimentation. Enter Shikari have never been shy to try new things. “The Spark” is comprised of numerous different ideas ranging from David Bowie-esque influences (“The Revolt Of The Atoms”) to energetic Prodigy-like outbursts (“Rabble Rouser”) to a fragile, honest and agonizing interpretation on a heartbreaking track (“An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces”).

Despite its polarizing character, “The Spark” is definitely a mature album; the band grows, changes, gains new insights and translates them into crisp musicianship. Having said that, I understand the transition into a cleaner sound. The absence of the usual Enter Shikari elements however, whether it be hardcore punk screams or stirring aggression, feels sort of foreign to a point where I caught myself thinking that I wouldn’t recognize the band if it wasn’t for Rou Reynolds. “Take My Country Back” for instance is a pure riot anthem that calls for angrier vocals, more nerve to match the revolutionary lyrics. Understandably, for an artist change is necessary and rejuvenating and, albeit I personally still find it hard to embrace, it doesn’t diminish the value or the creativity behind the album.

Finally, it is of crucial importance that Enter Shikari touch on mental health issues and empower people to speak up –also a reminder to fans, as Elijah Witt of Cane Hill accurately pointed out recently, that their favorite artists have the same emotional capacity as them.
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