Change is inevitable, but even if you accept this fact there is a fairly good likelihood change will still find a way to sneak up on you. Rou Reynolds and the men of Enter Shikari have spent their career inspiring others to live differently, but Reynolds could never have anticipated the blows life would deal him back in 2015. After years battling increasingly worse anxiety attacks brought on through exhaustion and high expectations Reynolds began self-medication and that, coupled with the end of a longterm relationship that left him alone for the first time in years, put the frontman in a position he’d never been in before.
If all this happened in a bubble of some kind it would already be too much to bare, but when you add the madness of the world Reynold dedicated his life to helping change it’s enough to drive everyone mad. Brexit. Trump. Terrorism. The steady dismantling of the NHS. The always present, but consistently rising fears of nuclear war. The list goes on and on, and Enter Shikari understand the role they play in not only bringing attention to these issues, but in influencing positive change. Reynolds and has bandmates channeled this amalgamation of frustration, heartache, and pain into their most forward-focused record to date. It’s called The Spark and it will arrive in stores worldwide on September 22.
With change in their personal lives it is a given that their musical output would change as well, but the evolution of Enter Shikari still manages to surprise. The lead single, “Live Outside,” showcases perhaps the band’s most infectious sound to date. Reynold’s high-minded lyricism is present, but now it’s accompanied by a driving rock song sound that feels kissed with the alternative elements that once took center stage in the group’s sound. The band that has always prided themselves on pushing the boundaries of what genre diehards believed possible have done so once again by reinventing themselves. It’s really quite something.
“The spark is a new connection, a new beginning,” says Reynolds. “It can be short and insignificant, but it can create something so significant. The spark is that light at the end of the tunnel – when everything seems to be falling apart, but you’re able to see some sort of path out of the dark.”
The message of the “Live Outside” and its accompanying video could not be more clear. There’s the obvious political overtones, but knowing the personal struggles Reynolds experienced in writing the material that would become this record we can understand how a similar message can be made about our personal demons. Whatever it is we fight, and it’s different for everyone, there is a sinking feeling that every victory is only delaying the next time our will is tested. We can often feel like victory, be it personal or political, is next to impossible. What’s even worse is that we can experience all this while also feeling like we’re the only ones who have ever fought such battles. The desire to break free lives in us all, and as they always have the members of Enter Shikari are trying to focus on the things that unite us.
The video takes things a step further with the introduction of virtual reality gives things a modern twist, but the message is similar. So many times the people who spend their lives working to break free do so only to begin inspiring others to live out the same stupid behavior they once raged against. Some may think this is a sign of weak will, but again — it’s not. There are other forces at work and they are not our friends. They are looking out for themselves while perpetuating a myth of status that keeps the masses comatose with a 24/7 feed of nonstop, non-real “drama” intended to busy those deemed less than until they serve their purpose (produce) and die.
Knowing Enter Shikari, there is not a chance on this planet that “Live Outside” is a sign of everything they have in store with The Spark, but it does mark another in a long line of evolutions for the group. The combination of personal and political woes has always been at the center of the band because those are the two things that somewhat unfortunately unite us all. Enter Shikari argue there is only need for one, and that is the relationship we share with one another on this strange journey called life. Up to this point that story has been one of overcoming hurdles through brotherhood, but with this record things are getting a bit introverted in the best possible way. It’s still about us a species on this spinning on this weird blue ball in the vast expanse of space, only now with an added emphasis on understanding right when we need it most.
1. The Spark
2. The Sights
3. Live Outside
4. Take My Country Back
6. Rabble Rouser
8. Undercover Agents
9. The Revolt Of The Atoms
10. An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces (in two movements)
11. The Embers