Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood of Colour
The hardest part about putting out a political album, let alone being a political band, is that you have to be honest. Anyone can fake love, heartbreak, anger, betrayal and fart jokes (thanks Blink-182), but if you can’t look sincere when expressing your dislike of how the world works, why 1% of the population control 99% of the wealth, and why there are some people who don’t understand that climate change is indeed occurring, people switch off completely.
Fortunately for the music world, and especially the punk/hardcore scene, Enter Shikari are still at their schizophrenic best, combining the heaviest elements of dubstep, hardcore and metal and combining it with funky melodies and good, old-fashioned British candidness. This all comes together on their third album A Flash Flood of Colour, a sprawling epic of political consciousness and jaded humour.
This is an important album for hardcore, because it outlines a crucial thing: the genre is still not a corporate whore. Like punk before it, hardcore has become a piggyback for major labels seeking bands that sound similar to their musical forefathers, but choose to direct this anger on petty, insipid teenage problems revolving around why girls don’t like them. Enter Shikari provide an example of the anger many young people feel in a world that is clearly not right. Over 11 tracks, A Flash Flood of Colour deals with climate change (Arguing with Thermometers), social inequality (Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here) and consumer culture.
Musically, A Flash Flood of Colour is more consistent than its predecessor Common Dreads. There may not be a huge hook that stands out like Juggernauts, but the intensity as much more even, and there is a greater emphasis on electronic sounds and samples. On two of the three singles (Arguing with Thermometers and Gandhi Mate, Gandhi), enormous riffing from Rory Clewlow and intense growling from Rou Reynolds turns into a thumping techno beat. It’s eclectic material, and the band has been praised before for combining to two genres without sounding contrived.
However, that doesn’t mean a hook is not to be found. Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here is the standout track on the record, as Clewlow pulls a fabulous riff out of his bag of tricks to back Reynolds’ surprisingly warm vocals. Drummer Rob Rolfe needs praise for his chops on Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide, easily the heaviest track on A Flash Flood of Colour, which boasts a creepy ending that wouldn’t sound out of place on some of Trent Reznor’s earlier material.
And while the musical element of Enter Shikari is growing and developing, Reynolds has upped the political agenda in his lyrics. In fact, his third effort at sparking change is even more socially charged than his previous one, if that is even possible. As the singer and songwriter, he commands his position out in front, and spews forth his opinion of oil companies (“You haven’t thought this through, have you boys?”), conservatives (“You’re a communist/You’re a fucking utopianist/Here they come, the immersive labels/But they’re attempted fails,”) and sustainability (“I know that we’re going to repeat history/ Unless we sort this out.”) For the most part, Reynolds is energized and electric as the smarmy punk, but it comes off as a little cheesy on final track Constellations, where he makes one too many train metaphors about sustainability over derivative string sections.
This is just one small drawback to what is essentially a wonderful album. The power and aggression of Reynolds’ voice counteract with the funkiness of the other band members’ creative ideas. There is a balance between directness of the political message and the quality of the music, and nothing is too loud, too soft or too obnoxious. And most importantly, it feels honest, which is in short supply these days.
Standout tracks: Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here, Gandhi Mate, Gandhi, Arguing with Thermometers.
In Summary: For existing fans, it’s a reason to keep listening, and for new people, this is about as good an advertisement as can be mustered for Enter Shikari, who continue to push the boundaries in terms of mixing genres and creating political upheaval.