Enter Shikari have made one of the most adventurous albums of the year...
Fast becoming kings of the UK post-hardcore scene, Enter Shikari first made a name for themselves with the release of ‘Take To The Skies’ in March 07. Shooting the band to fame when it debuted at number four in the UK charts, the record pushed boundaries of rock and electronica, fusing the two in an exhaustive 17-track offering.
The 09 release of ‘Common Dreads’, however, is a far superior beast to its predecessor, building on the sounds of ‘Take To The Skies’ but fusing an angrier, more mature (and aware) view of life. In fact, the stark world take on ‘Step Up’ is a caustic put down of values in the 21st century. Lead vocalist Roughton ‘Rou’ Reynolds composes his disillusionment with modern concerns (such as consuming to feel content) through new-found lyricism that both condemns and instigates a change: “If you can change your values, find a balance and destroy imbalance, step up today!”
Paradoxically it’s a more upbeat message from previous songs like ‘Today Won’t Go Down In History’, but here lies the nature of interest that Enter Shikari galvanise – an ability to deliver a positive message on an album designed to articulate individual anxieties coming together as a shared concern (hence the title ‘Common Dreads’).
Other tracks, like single ‘Antwerpen’, still excite the senses in the way that ‘No Sssweat’ did previously, with a Pendulum-like injection that blows away any simple genre classification.
‘The Jester’ proves the band are well ahead of their game with another musical alter ego that sounds more like jazz music piped into a lift than a hardcore electronic outpouring. It’s a composition that showcases the passionate and versatile ability of a band who have in the past been maligned by some critics as disposable, screamo punk noise.
On closing track ‘Fanfare For The Conscious Man’ band members Liam Clewlow (guitar), Chris Batten (bass), Rob Rolfe (drums) and frontman Rou chant: “We are the world and we are the people and we will be heard!” But while themes of recession, paranoia and state control are expressed, there are still club favourites like ‘Zzzonked’ (a metal-infused, drum and bass classic in the making, mixing hope and irreverence).
The inevitable downside to all this is that, at times, the message the band are trying to make is lost. Opening with the portentous title track that promises to herald political punk attitude, mid-way through the album the band take a sabbatical as they focus on the clubbier sounding tunes, diluting the message somewhat. Therefore it’s hard to know whether this record is a concept album or just a brief dalliance with more serious concerns than ‘Take To The Skies’. This is hardly a criticism when considering Enter Shikari have raised their game in making one of the most adventurous albums of the year. It’s audacious and certainly defies expectations, proving there’s certainly more to come from a band who refuse to be pigeonholed. Whatever direction they next take, it’s sure to be interesting.