Lots of musicians are busy making albums about the political chaos engulfing the world today, but only Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds has been driven to an all-out breakdown by it all. Finding his sporadic panic attacks – described on ‘An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces’ as “a thundering pain” in his chest “like God’s in there having a migraine” – worsening as Brexit, terrorism, austerity, the dismantling of the NHS and Trump’s rule-by-toddler-tweet ramped up, Reynolds honed in on his personal political anguish for Shikari’s fifth album. And it’s a focus that’s helped the record become, potentially, their Biffy Clyro-style crossover classic.
Allowing accessible hooks and rich electro-rock melodies to dominate the techno-screamo-rap bits, tracks like ‘The Sights’, ‘Live Outside’ and the robot knees-up of ‘The Revolt Of Atoms’ become irrepressible emo pop floor-fillers wracked with existential crises – “I’m a little bit petrified of what’s to come, my head’s a bit stir-fried”, Rou roars, “I wanna live outside of all of this”.
The epic punk clamour of ‘Take My Country Back’ reflects the enormity and anger of the Brexit disaster-in-waiting – “Don’t wanna take my country back / I wanna take my country forward… We’ve really gone and f**ked it this time” – but there’s more space and sophistication to ‘The Spark’ than we’ve seen from Shikari before. Take the sumptuous, Foalsian afro-haze of ‘Shinrin-yoku’ or the antique piano crackles of ‘Airfield’, tracks that build to bombastic finales so Biffy that we defy you to listen to them in a shirt. Opening with ‘The Spark’ and closing with ‘The Embers’, this is Rou’s tempestuous tributeto a world on fire.