As many will know by now, Enter Shikari are a band that laugh at the notion of rigid convention. For almost two decades now the St Albans quartet have enjoyed a reputation that is mostly beyond comparison, often being lauded as one of the most tireless, bold and confident bands to grace the industry. Certainly, anyone who has just even just casually encountered their work by chance will agree to this sentiment, with the group’s work carrying it’s own purely idiosyncratic sound that utterly disregards standard genre norms.
For the most part, such a reputation has worked in their favour, with every release thus far seeing the band freshly tinkering their sound and pushing their boundaries further. Seemingly like a box of chocolates, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get with a new Enter Shikari album. However, with their latest record Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible you have no idea what each passing minute will provide. An album the group themselves have dubbed ‘The definitive Enter Shikari experience’ Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible is indeed their most boldest and ambitious work to date. However, in relation, it’s also their most convoluted and divisive work thus far.
Across the fifteen tracks present within this sprawling labyrinth of a release, Shikari attempt to rapidly cover as much ground as possible. Much like the vibrantly busy album artwork, there’s so much content to unpack, analyse and decipher. For the legion of lions that form Shikari’s fanbase, the concept of such a mass of content will be tantalising. However, Shikari haven’t just expanded their musical palette to cover more ground. In contrast, they’ve thrown literally everything into the mix all at once. Across this release, the group throw in elements of boy band pop, djent orientated pitch drops, neo-classical, Ibiza house, swaggering waltz, 80’s synth and even brit-pop into a great big paella of noise. Typically, the idea of this band undertaking such concepts would be wildly exciting. However, this exercise in dynamism may even be too much for such a fervently dynamic act, with the band seemingly not having the time to articulate such creativity in a meaningful way all whilst forgoing natural flow. Simply, some of it works, some of it doesn't.
The great thing about Shikari’s more concise records – such as The Spark and the more confrontational The Mindsweep – is how they allow the band to sink their teeth into a sound. These releases saw the band extracting the essence of a genre prior to bending it to their will and adding their own unique personality. With so much ground covered within this record, such an endeavour can’t be exercised and a lot of ideals feel half baked. Even with it’s infuriatingly catchy melody and glittery swagger, ‘Crossing The Rubicon’ see’s the band dance their way into sugary pop to mixed results, ‘The Pressure Is On’ feels like a subpar b-side from The 1975 and the rock n’ synth rush of ‘Satellites* *’ stumbles upon take off. Even the downbeat The Prodigy worship of ‘Marionettes (I. The Discovery Of Strings)’ fails to leave an impact. With repeat listens, such material begins to take on more life, but it still pales to compare to the work that preceded it.
However, the true causalities of Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible are the moments where promise is shown prior to disintegrating. Recorded alongside The Prague Symphony Orchestra, ‘Elegy For Extinction’ is a breathtakingly beautiful and deeply moving movement that feels like it could be incorporated into what could the breathtaking centre jewel of the record. Instead, it falters due to lack of nourishment. This in essence, could be stated as the very nature of the record; tons of potential, but lacking the correct execution.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. In fact, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible contains some spectacular moments. Previous single ‘THE GREAT UNKOWN’ pumps adrenaline into one’s bloodstream immediately, ‘Modern Living...’ see’s the band tackle brit-pop by creating a conscious anthem for the generation that will see in the end of days, and with it’s carefree attitude and silver tongue lyricism ‘The King’ may end up being one the album’s most overlooked tracks. In relation, ‘Waltzing Off The Face Of The Earth (I. Crescendo)’ is easily one the best tracks Enter Shikari have ever released. A hurdy-gurdy funeral march that bodes farewell to human society, it’s a seamless unison of old age waltz and industrial noise marring against some of the most striking poetry ever offered by frontman Rou Reynolds. It’s a reminder of the prowess and creativity that made the band so fascinating in the first place. In relation, the production, much like the records that came before it, is beyond flaw.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the masses consume Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible. However, it’s going to be more interesting to see how Enter Shikari themselves navigate their next steps following it’s release. A melting pot of influences that sometime fail to crystallise, this may be the band’s most divisive works to date – an achievement given the fact that Enter Shikari absolutely deal in non-conformity.
Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible is released April 17th via SO Recordings.
You can pre-order the record and bundles here.