HARK! For a brief fanfare of trumpets — the kind that might herald the start of a royal ascension perhaps — marks the unexpected opening sound on A Kiss for the Whole World, the seventh album from St Albans stalwarts Enter Shikari.
An unexpected regal blast, perhaps, but one that feels entirely justified. Some 20 years into their career, here is an album that sees Shikari proving exactly why they’ve carved their own place in UK music royalty.
While the group’s instantly recognisable blend of electronic post hardcore might be present and correct throughout, it’s sounds like that aforementioned horn section that will keep fans on their toes — fresh experimentation is to be found at every turn.
An early example comes on the soaring ‘(pls) set me on fire’, which takes the relentless intensity
and guttural screams that loomed large on the band’s early material, but pairs it with real lyrical anguish (“Can you strike a match, make me disappear?”). It makes for one of their most emotionally raw songs to date.
Those feelings loom large on the rest of the album, too. The striking ‘Dead Wood’ sees frontman Rou Reynolds addressing feelings of uselessness (“Am I no good? Am I made of wood?”) while ‘Blood Shot’ — with its barrage of swirling synths — is surely destined to become a live favourite.
It’s all part and parcel of what Reynolds has described as ‘Shikari 2.0’, after finding the band at something of a creative impasse during a moment of mid-pandemic reflection.
“At the time it felt like we ourselves, as musicians, were experiencing the death of our band,” he said. “I just didn’t realise that the human and physical connection to other people were so central to how I write.”
If this is the start of a new era of Shikari, then the incoming 2.0 looks very bright indeed. They remain the perennial rock underdogs and champions for the underground, but on the basis of this album at least you wouldn’t count against them lasting another 20 years.