When any band suddenly takes up an interest in politics and start to rant about ‘the state of things’, it usually sends most of their fans running for their Oasis records. But when Shikari came back with their bile covered second album ‘Common Dreads’, they married their newfound taste for activism with a taut arsenal of guitars, pounding percussion and hooky as hell electronics and wound up filling bigger venues than ever.
For album number three ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’ they decamped to the sunny climbs of Thailand and have come back with an album that promises to send them into the very high reaches of festival bills.
The album starts with a long spoken word intro, which is eventually joined by a lilting set of programmed strings. Frontman Rou Reynolds is quickly into his stride, tearing down the establishment as “a system that was beyond repair”. It then gives way to this section with Rou talking about his childhood, which is pretty bizarre, but in comparison to what’s coming up later…
This is more conventional Shikari territory, with a dub break leading to a bruising guitar riff with Rou issuing a rallying cry of “It’s not late” over the top. It’s got an almighty beatdown in there too.
You’ve heard this one. It’s pretty much everything Shikari do well, a massive driving guitar riff, a random electro interlude and a chorus that’s catchy as hell. It also ends with the world’s worst Louis Armstrong impression, but you’ll have to wait until the album comes out to hear that.
One of the lighter moments on the record, with a bridge and chorus that are actually built around cooing ‘Woahs’. Keyboards gently traipse around a chugging riff and build to a chorus that’s surprisingly poppy. It gets heavy at the end though. Don’t worry.
‘Arguing With Thermometers’
This track starts off sounding like early Bring Me The Horizon, with Rou initially doing his best Oli Sykes over a sludgy riff. And then, this being Enter Shikari, it turns into a jumpy dancefloor filler with lyrics about the explorer Ernest Shackleton and a mad rant that compares the world’s out of control spending to Class A drugs. Why can’t all bands be like this?
‘Stalemate’ is a ballad. An actual ballad by Enter Shikari. Lush acoustic guitars, soft rock drumming and a real hands in the air chorus are all thrown in there, with a proper lovers rock solo in the middle. It ought to be awful, but it’s actually really good.
‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’
This one starts with a long rant. Seriously, it goes on for 40 seconds, with Rou aiming his lyrical gunfire at bankers, weapon manufacturers and big business in general. After the whole band bellow ‘We’re sick of this shit’, it morphs into the kind of dance track Crystal Castles would be proud to put their name to. We even get a bit of Skrillex esque dub wobble at the end too.
‘Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here’
Another slow one. Not quite ballad territory, but a lot slower than typical Shikari fare. It eventually brings in a marching drum roll and a pretty proggy riff, like the sort of thing Coheed And Cambria do so well when they’re not lost in comic books.
‘Pack Of Thieves’
This is actually quite pretty, with an intro oddly reminiscent of the all those plonky piano parts on the ‘American Beauty’ soundtrack. Course it then builds into a full on monster, with Rou screaming ‘Stand Up’ over a very hooky electro breakdown. One of the standout moments on the album.
‘Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannocide’
Back to the heaviness, which is fitting given the prehistoric nature of title. A barreling riff growls underneath Rou’s yelping ‘You haven’t read your history have you? Just regurgitated lies”. It builds to another dubby breakdown and then a punishing outro. This is as close to ‘Common Dread’s era Shikari as the record gets.
The album ends quite strangely, with Rou recounting a story about nearly missing a train and feeling a bit glum. Naturally it turns to a rallying call about the future of the human race over the top of a swirling string section. It’s a bit of curveball as an end to the album, but then, pretty much everything Shikari do is a bit of curveball isn’t it?
It’s a mark of Shikari’s confidence in what they do that they felt comfortable enough to add even more musical genres into their already overflowing melting pot of influences. But the variety works, as does the band’s decision to make their angrier lyrical moments less angry and more obtuse. It’s also packed to the gills with headbanging moments and even the ballads work. Seriously, what more do you want?
‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’ is released on January 9.