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Enter Shikari - 'Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible' Album Review



2. Crossing The Rubicon

3. { The Dreamer’s Hotel }

4. Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (I. Crescendo)

5. modern living….

6. apøcaholics anonymøus (main theme in B minor)

7. the pressure’s on.

8. Reprise 3

9. T.I.N.A.

10. Elegy For Extinction

11. Marionettes (I. The Discovery of Strings)

12. Marionettes (II. The Ascent)

13. satellites* *

14. thē kĭñg

15. Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (II. Piangevole)

A few years back, I reviewed Slam Dunk North. And had the pleasure of watching Enter Shikari absolutely kill it with a 10 year celebration of debut album 'Take To The Skies'.

Since then I've pretty much latched onto everything they've done. 'The Spark' absolutely saved me in some pretty dark times, the live albums have been truly awesome experiences as I've pretty much experienced each tour on the most recent albums in some shape or form, and managed to convince my wife to watch them with me last year on the 'Stop The Clocks' tour, which was just..... bloody awesome, I can't being to explain how often I've had the back catalogue on repeat during long, painful drives or dropped a new track or two into a playlist so I can sing along while running, working out or boarding.

Not only that but the band have been a mainstay in DJ night sets, the 'Mindsweep' hospitalised album tracks being sprinkled liberally through dance sets and dropping the truly awesome 'Slipshod/Jester' mash-up when I'm feeling a bit playful. So yeah, without gushing anymore, I wanted to just eat this album up. When it was offered I was luckily working from home so jumped straight in. First review in almost a year, better be good right?

So, lets get this out the way, I really, really didn't get into the first few tracks that were pre-released, '{The Dreamer's Hotel}' just felt a bit dull and 'thē kĭñg', especially 'thē kĭñg', just did absolutely nothing for me. Seeing people gush about it in the Shikari group I'm in and not feeling the same way made me really question if I've just come out the other side of this fandom.

Things were somewhat restored by 'T.I.N.A.' I started feeling that familiar buzz and wanted more.

So when the album finally hit my inbox, I didn't wait, I stood in the kitchen cooking and blasted it out of my phone. I know, nothing like a phone's tinny speaker to get the true effect from an album. It didn't matter. From the opening track all the way through I was intrigued.

The opener, 'THE GREAT UNKNOWN', proved that once again Shikari just know how to start off right. Whether it's a live-set or an album. Something is always special and jumps right out at you. The sound is distinct, but the progression of the band shows, no longer relying on growling, the vocals hit, the guitars buzz and the synth screams. It takes notice of previous albums and shows you what they're going to bring this time.

The next track, 'Crossing the Rubicon', utilises everything that was teased by the band by 'Stop The Clocks'. it's Pop-Rock at it's finest with some stunning Queen-esque harmonies thrown in.

'{The Dreamers Hotel}' even when hearing it through my phone speakers sounded, well.... better. Better than I'd heard on my TV and better than my Spoitfy listens. I've just done a side by side and it just sounds better on the album (maybe just because streaming services and high quality review links are different but that's another story for another time). There's a heavier buzz to it, the instruments sound more locked in and it makes it an altogether better song. I was already singing the chorus while walking my halls at work as it had grown on me, and the breakdown harmony is one of my favourite things I've heard this year, but now it's got more oomph, and just benefits from it.

Shikari have a habit of experimenting with genres, tracks, time sequences and this is just shown in tracks like 'Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (I. Crescendo)'. The horns having an almost Oompah band sound, but in a melancholy, almost sinister way, reflecting the horror of the subject matter of the song, making me think, and stick with me here, of the the child catcher from Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang. Creepy, sinister, and surprising. The build of the song to bringing all the instruments in and then back out again to the horn solo works in such a distinct way. A smart, short jolt of reality.

This is a reflection of following tracks such as 'modern living.....' , which has a Pop-Rock, stunning opening riff, before dropping the synth bass and declaring us all apocaholics. But the sum of the parts leads to an epic sing-along and following track 'apøcaholics anonymøus (main theme in B minor)' a breakdown that isn't out of place on 'Common Dreads' or a 'Flash Flood of Colour'. Electronic beats, synth and effects abound, bring back the triangular rig, and put Sparky right in the middle for this. I can already imagine Rou dancing up a storm to this.

There's a lull in proceedings with 'the pressure’s on.' Having been taken on an audio journey by the band already, and quite a full-on one with very little pause, this break is welcome. It builds and swells and fades again, vocally beautiful and a real crowd pleaser.

I don't want to spoil anything about 'Reprise 3'. If you're a Shikari fan, you know what to expect from that one word. I will say it's unlike anything heard before, but it feeds into 'T.I.N.A.' perfectly. The track pre-released that I felt most pleased about, it feels like a true blast of old school Shikari, but with the modern touches they've developed. Aggresive and full of energy.

When the 'Mindsweep' was released, 'interlude' worked so well. A horn solo conveying everything alout the album in just under a minute. Shikari just take it to the nth level with 'Elegy for Extinction'. A full orchestral number across almost 4 minutes that swells and builds, and then fades away. The bright playful start leading to the darker ending, conveying to myself as the reviewer, Rou's own outlook on humanity. Once bright and beautiful, but slowly turning darker and more sinister before fading away entirely. If I'm totally wrong on this, then so be it, but it's just a simply epic piece of work.

The two part Marionettes track is really a tale of two halves. When it first started I was almost expecting a bond theme to start up. The track builds and has the hallmarks of Spark era synths. It'll get the pit bouncing like the dance influenced tracks they've done before. The second half gets darker and more Prog-Rock. On first listen, I didn't really get into this, but on repeat listens and listening to both tracks together it does work. the second part feels personally weaker musically, but the lyrics flowing through both parts means it's neccesary.

Just when you think the rest of this album is going to be dark and moody like the prior few tracks, 'satellites**' kicks in. Starting off with lovely vocals, strings and keys, you expect something quite relaxing but it takes off, and gives the second half of the album a massive kick of fun. A sing-a-long anthem to jump around to. Probably the track I'll have on repeat for hours and hours.

Following it up with the King just further exemplifies how good Satelites is in comparison. It's a song that I really can't get into, even on multiple listens. I had similar problems with tracks like The Revolt of the Atoms on The Spark, which is, let's be honest, the riff from Tainted Love, and for a while Supercharge, which I found myself strangely getting into one night in Newcastle wandering the city looking for a pint. Time may well tell here, but it's not for me.

The closing track, a reprise of 'Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (II. Piangevole)' starts off with the orchestra again. The addition of this over certain tracks clearly points to what's to come from the band. This finale also does something interesting as the track glitches across your ears. Really cool concept that I thought originally was a glitch in my download but on future listens can tell it's intentional. Using aspects of a couple of the other tracks from the album, the track is another reminder that the themes of the album, of the views of the band towards the human race and a bleak future without change. Which in the times we're currently experienceing is only more poignant. Ending like this is unexpected but is solid.

The prior two albums, 'The Mindsweep' and 'The Spark' took time to really sink into my soul, and generally occurred when I least expected and having only had this for a week or two and limited listens, I'm still not 100% certain on the album. There's some absolute stand-out tracks that I'll be coming back to time and time again, and I'm sure live will be somehting to behold, and some tracks that will probably fall back and not be my bag. But what's so impressive is the ambition and scope of the album, the topics it targets without having to punch you in the face outright with them, and how far the band have come. Vocally, every lyric is clean and there's not a scream or growl in sight. The harmonies, which were already great on 'The Spark' have been taken up an extra notch, and the musical ability from the band, with the writing of the album, the orchestral pieces and all the samples and synth parts is simply astounding. With Rou given free reign as producer this time around, he's really driven the band to progress even further, past the Pop leanings of 'The Spark' and into unknown territory, while at the same time giving a nod to past albums.

Review - Oil Williams

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