Enter Shikari - Common Dreads
Enter Shikari have progressed and matured with ease, but moments on this Technicolor rampage fall flaccid with adolescent fragility, more so than they did on Take To The Skies.
The musicality however is undeniably superb, if a little overly-textured in places, especially in songs like Havoc A where they flirt with dub-step in a casually excellent manner and Gap In The Fence with a brilliant guitar track very similar to Jose Gonzalez. Songs like No Sleep Tonight and The Jester boast such power that the sounds lifts you up and throw your ears into a fluorescent whirlwind, like songs on Take To The Skies did, but again- with more maturity.
One factor that doesnt flex the new-found progressive edge is the vague political messages. Opening track Common Dreads cleverly overlaps protesting voices from a variety of countries with brutal intensity that leads perfectly into the shattering Solidarity; however, throughout the album, Enter Shikari do a bit of a Bono, iIn that they try to jam pack all issues of political concern into one album with a variety of metaphors and titles with hidden meanings (that are a bit too hidden to be visible in any sense), such as Zzzoncked and Wall, that leave the listener a bit blurry on the political front. But the musicality makes up for this as Enter Shikari become a vibrant, flourishing remix of their older-trance meets hardcore-selves.
Enter Shikari have developed their trance sound into a Prodigy style drum and bass, also displaying clown-music-inspired drum n bass motifs similar to Mr. (underrated) Ed Cox; like this The Jester progresses from elevator jazz into discordant Clown style chopped up beats.
As Common Dreads is an epic 15 tracks with sounds with such a diverse range of identities it is almost quite a compilation. Because of the varying selection, there are also prominent moments that are, well, cringe worthy.
On some vocals Rou has developed a Colloquial man-in-the-street talking style that falls dead and somewhat hilarious against the throttling music; by this he mimics Mike Skinner with the political-tinged lyrics and instead sounds very (stereotyping and judgemental-ness-aside) like a cosy-homed well-groomed middle-class teen attempting to fit in with the hard boys at school by saying stuff like braap braap, yes man,- but maybe thats too harsh. Failed-half rhymes that try to get across a quirky political message, such as and a sense of community, with be something in a museum, also fall dead on the ears, and yes Enter Shikari, we are losing a sense of community in some aspects, but it just sounds a bit frail giving the politics the timid equivalent of a Gordon Brown speech. *oooooh satire
On this note, the song with that lyric-(their new single)- juggernauts, is shit.
Common Dreads is such a mixed record and the songs are so varied that they have the potential to polarise opinions, which is good in some aspects. But when moments make your face twitch and cringe and others cause waves of brutal force to shimmer through your body with staccato impact, it seems that Common Dreads lacks a bit of an identity, contradicting myself once more maybe this is them finding their musical identity, or their musical identity is literally a clashing hybrid of intensity.
One thing for sure, is that Enter Shikari are one of the only bands that have the power to baffle, confuse and amaze.
Progression can sometimes be equally laughable and brilliant...
Finally Loney, Dear is getting some recognition, that he justly deserves.
Opening track Airport Surroundings is the obvious lead single for the album, with its mournful pop charm and thoughtful hooks, it sees Loney, Dear at his most solemn and best.
Dear John is a heartbreak record taking on a similar lonesome tone to records like For Emma, forever ago: Bon Iver and the classic Pink Moon: Nick Drake. The songs on here are fine mixtures of distance and warmth, the distant feel coming from the electronic tinted sound and the warmth in the romantic, lonely overtone. After creating songs that were so isolated like Loney Noir and I am John, it seems that Loney Dear has got his unusual originality perfected.
Broken Records- Until The Earth Begins To Part
Broken Records play charismatic Scottish tinged songs brushed with thick eastern sweeping strings, the backing selection of instruments at times are a choir of melancholy - in a very similar way to Arcade Fire - and at other times there are mass layers of melody that make it sound quite messy, subsequently overbearing the lead singular-voice which becomes frail.
Ghosts and If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song , It Would Sound Like This are stand out tracks; with their flourishing Folksy take on eastern/Celtic pop songs which are like orchestral versions of early Damien Rice but a a bit milder in the vague melody.
Until The Earth Begins To Part is an alright record but it doesnt really go anywhere and it feels under-produced, considering there are so many band members.,In the energetic moments you feel like it's going to build up to something, but it almost subsides, the same can be said for the slower songs- which drift along with a mild, neutral overtone and gently ponder existence without much thoughts rather like someone using ums and uhs to fill gaps when proving a point.
All in all its too neutral too have much of an effect, but there are still good songs and moments. 5/10
Gary Go - Open Arms