“A Kiss For The Whole World” by Enter Shikari (out Friday 21st April) – 9/10
The genre-bending quartet, Enter Shikari return with their seventh studio album this week. From their inception, incorporating a concoction of metal and trance, to a more recent offering of radio friendly pop rock, the St. Albans sound-shifters have exhibited a touch of almost every genre available, including dubstep, oompah and even a classical orchestral piece.
All of this whilst battling with the important topics such as politics, the climate crisis, LGBTQ+ rights, and their own personal struggles with mental health. Off the back of their most ‘definitive’ release, Shikari are back with ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’.
The title track opens the album with a triumphant fanfare. And for a band built on community, frontman Rou Reynolds has penned a fitting opening lyric as he addresses the listeners, “be embraced, billions”, before the first chaotic offering as the four piece erupt from their dormant state.
In essence, Enter Shikari were just that during the Covid-19 pandemic. An inactive volcano during the release of their previous album ‘Nothing is True & Everything is Possible’ and what would normally be the touring calendar that follows.
During this time, Rou admitted to suffering from severe writers block, essentially not writing new music for two years. And it wasn’t until the Download Festival Pilot, which the band headlined in front of 10,000 fans, acted as the catalyst and opened the flood gates for new ideas.
The live show shines a light on a need for human connection, which is echoed in the climax of ‘Dead Wood’, with vocals oozing through a warming mix of effects and desire, “I want to feel the way you feel”. It is a moving track, with the frontman narrating over brooding strings, with the emotion captured in one anguishing scream of frustration.
The writing process, once the outpour had begun, has been described as “fast, furious and jubilant”. This could be seen as a perfect summary of the circa 30 minute album, but certainly with the lead single, ‘(pls) set me on fire’, which is a three-minute release of positive energy.
The single is the first taste of what feels like the return of Rory C’s heavier dropped tuned guitars, with the powerful strums an almost instant impact in the first breakdown and preceding chorus. If not noticeable here, the combination of heavy chugging guitars and electronics in the breakdown of ‘It Hurts’ is akin to the ‘Flash Flood’ era.
‘Leap into the Lightning’ is another three-minute example of the multitude of forms Shikari can take shape and mould between. With swelling electronics building before another snappy chorus. From here, the album disintegrates into a collapse of glitchy electronics, garage and laser like bolts of energy with ‘feed your soul’.
There are three interludes on the album, with ‘Bloodshot (Coda)’ a classical reprise continuing the motif of the album’s third single ‘Bloodshot’, which doesn’t quite muster the grandeur necessary to continue the album’s momentum. Where the latter may miss the mark, the nine full length tracks are all stellar hits in their own right.
No strangers to the occasional Easter egg, the band tip their caps to yesteryear with the mention of previous songs or album titles. But overall, the new album is a lease of new life as Enter Shikari embark on a new act; act two.
The album has self-affirming hits in ‘Jailbreak’ and a sugar coated punk rock banger with ‘Giant Pacific Octopus (I don’t know you anymore)’. Once again, familiar territory where Shikari shoehorn every inspiration and genre into a neatly presented package, in what is now a familiar pop format.
Having rebuilt their own studio setup in a rundown farmhouse using only solar power, it is an explosive return, harnessing the solar system’s most powerful energy source. The four piece are rebirthed and re-energised, and you can feel the outpouring of emotion throughout the album.
Words: Oliver Toad
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