Enter Shikari cannot be criticised for a lack of ambition. They’ve never shied away from forward looking progression, taking their sounds to strange new places and when it comes to genre, they make great shouts of defiance straight in its face. One criticism you can level at Enter Shikari however, is that they’ve never been very good. And while “A Flash Flood of Colour” is certainly the least they’ve ever made my ears bleed, I’m still trying to stop the gooey red stuff from leaking.
Previous albums from this band have been both obnoxiously infantile and exhaustingly ADD. The way they bounce back and forth from out of tune attempts at melodic singing to nails on a black board screaming, from hyperactive dance to generic hardcore riffs is similar to that of a two year old toddler dragging you to they see-saw when you were already heading to the swings.
The new album learns little from past mistakes (and at times heinous crimes) but it does show a certain maturity which the previous albums were lacking. The album has a grander depth of scope, while also feeing more focused. It has an overriding theme detailing the lack of long term thinking by our politicians to maintain humanities survival in favour of the short term goal of personal profit. It helps connect all the songs in a way that Enter Shikari have never done before, giving the album a sense of unity and cohesion, lyrically at least.
The problem is that the at times surprisingly serene poetry used to express these opinions has neither the eloquence of a poet like Mike Skinner or the flare of an activist like Johnny “Itch” Fox. The lyrics are the red marker highlighting the adolescence that Enter Shikari can’t seem to shake despite desperately trying to. It all sounds a little bit Year-9ish.
The music too displays the tell tale signs of immaturity. After four or five tracks it becomes abundantly clear the album has been turned into an overstuffed kitchen sink of ideas, many of which should have been safely tucked away next to the bleach and rubber gloves. It’s almost as if nothing has been refused, no thought, design or scheme was ever met with those two little letters “N” &”O”. Like an adolescent they’ve been wild and outrageous but also like an adolescent they’ve been unrestrained and indulgent. They veer wildly between tempo changes and genre even within the same track. Quickly variety turns into confusion and the music bounces around the confines of the album like an incoherent maniac bouncing off of the walls of an asylum cell.
You start wondering why they do this to their own music. Why they create such good riffs and beats, then feel the need to destroy the momentum they’ve built up with an out of place spoken word section or an ill judged bout of Death Metal screaming that sneaks up on you like a loud noise in a horror film. I suppose they see it as non conformal and boundary breaking, but here it just comes off as jarring and inexperienced.
Perhaps the next album will benefit from the progression they’ve made here, perhaps they will be confident in the music’s core simplicity and try to compliment it with seasonings of mood shifts and movement changes, instead of cluttering it with them. You can’t make a dish around the salt and pepper and you certainly can’t create an album around the principal that the gimmicks and not the tune are the main event. Better luck next time boys, but please hold back on the tricks and make it mare about the music next time OK? Good.