British band Enter Shikari, formed in 2003, recently released their fifth album, The Spark.
The radical and raucous rhetorical element of the band’s previous work is still there, but the music has in addition something more introspective, escapist and pessimistic about it—reflected in a less frenetic, more mellow sound.
With the new album the band is attempting to navigate their way through an increasingly fraught political and social atmosphere—the growth of militarism, nationalism and inequality—and to continue to encourage an alternative.
The pressures and contradictions involved cause problems. They undoubtedly contributed towards the 2015 breakdown suffered by frontman and songwriter Rou Reynolds.
Listening to The Spark suggests Enter Shikari is at a political and personal crossroads. Upon the album’s release, Reynolds told the Independent, “You still get that ‘apathy is cool’ thing with some bands, but I don’t think you can take that position any more, in 2017.”
“The world is so tumultuous. But I wouldn’t be able to put so much passion into writing if I wasn’t also experiencing protests outside of music. Maybe that’s a sort of litmus test for whether the music is real or not. What I was trying to do with this album in marrying the personal and the political is to ensure that human vulnerability is laid bare, and to not be afraid to speak about emotions.”
Reynolds says that the failure to speak about emotions was “one of the big reasons you get people like Donald Trump.” This is of course misguided.