The youthful exuberance of Enter Shikari’s earlier releases might have been somewhat charming, but exuberance alone is not enough to carry a career. A Flash Flood Of Colour finds the band continuing to dabble in politics, and attempting to grow up.
The opening statement of System uses some appallingly clunky metaphors to explain the collapse of the majority of the world’s economic systems. Singer Rou Reynolds babbles on about a house built on the edge of a cliff and how it’s on shaky ground. Essentially, it’s a fiscal take on The House That Jack Built. However, with youth unemployment being such a massive issue at the moment, Reynolds’ chest beating assertion that “our generation’s got to fight to survive” will undoubtedly serve as an exhilarating rallying cry in some quarters, no matter how poorly illustrated his political arguments might be.
When it comes to politics, Enter Shikari’s closest contemporaries are undoubtedly The King Blues, who are similarly inclined to skip across genres. Where The King Blues differ however is that they sound like they really mean what they say, and are angry and genuinely subversive with it. For all the bluster, roared vocals, bass wobble and thundering powerchords, Enter Shikari just seem too polite. The choruses on Search Party might be fun to bellow with a belly full of cider, but as a call to arms it falls short. This is partly because Enter Shikari find plenty to rail against, but they don’t offer any solutions. To borrow from James Brown for a moment, they’re talking loud and saying nothing.
The initial metal rumble of Arguing With Thermometers falls foul of Shikari’s smash and grab genre splicing as it segues into a lightweight dance groove before moving into more familiar basswobble territory. It’s like kicking a charging bull in the balls with an iron boot – it drains the energy instantly. To compound the problem, Rou’s screamo turn at the midpoint is particularly comical, while the chant of “we’ll take you down” is utterly hollow. The band themselves seem to be aware of how ridiculous they sometimes sound. On Gandhi Mate, Ghandi, Rou’s scattershot rage against “the system” results in the band “comically” telling him to calm down and remember Ghandi. It’s totally contrived naturally; as is the Louis Armstong impression at the end of Sssnakepit that pokes fun at Rou’s roar, but it does at least show that the band have a modicum of self awareness.
Enter Shikari’s political slant is, at best, somewhat naïve. At its worst it makes this album almost painful to listen to. Ignore the flimsy rhetoric however and they are more than capable of packing a punch musically. Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here gets the balance of influences spot on and propelled by a particularly forceful bassline roars into a monumentally catchy chorus. Lyrically, the essence of Stalemate is that “war is bad yeah?” but beneath the sentiment is a melody that is undeniably stunning. Constellations meanwhile channels Mike Skinner‘s keen eye for observation, paraphrases Bill Hicks and sets it all to a thunderous hymnal pomp. Not that they always get it right; the appalling Eurodisco-meets-Metal chug of Pack Of Thieves contains a breakdown so clumsily executed it’s almost physically painful. Meanwhile, the post-hardcore/electronica mash up of Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide just seems to be by the numbers, which is quite surprising for a band considered to be innovators back in 2007.
There are occasional moments of brilliance to be found of Flash Flood, often within the carefully crafted melodies of Enter Shikari’s choruses, but all too often their lyrical angles and their almost pathological need to force genres together make for an uneven album.