The rise of Enter Shikari in the UK has been, quite simply, phenomenal, going from playing the classic â??toilet venues' of the British pub music scene at the start of 2006 to packing out a tent with 15,000 fanatics at Reading Festival only 18 months later, all armed with official merchandise, flashing finger lights, strobes and glow sticks and, of course, matching haircuts. But let us not delve into the â??scene,' which Enter Shikari leads, particularly in the UK, which for some unknown reason has been classified as "nĂĽ-rave." Let us talk about their debut album.
Firstly, the album was released in the UK by the band's very own label, Ambush Reality, on which they were the only band. The fact that the album managed to reach no. 4 in the UK album chart is quite simply staggering for an independent debut release. So the question is, why? Well, Enter Shikari have what can only be described as a unique sound, involving a number of varied and exciting electro-based synthetics, on which their songs are based. However, despite the electronics, they retain the feel and sound of a hardcore band, rather than a distorted and unimpressive metal/drum and bass crossover. The best way to understand their sound, however, is not to read my lame attempt at pigeonholing it, but to shoot straight over to their MySpace, the place where their popularity first began to explode, and hear it for yourself.
The album opens with an instrumental, obviously, on the electronics side of the scale, and has four other short instrumental â??interludes' littered throughout, supposedly to help pull the whole thing together. As a result, the album flows well from the first track to the last, which is aptly called "Closing," and echoes the sounds of the first, bringing the whole thing around in a nice circular way. However, none of the instrumental tracks are actually anything in particular, and seem to be a cheap stunt, playing on the electronic aspect of the band, and after awhile quickly begin to sound like what they are: worthless filler.
The best way to understand Enter Shikari is to listen to the best tracks on this album, on their own. They stand out massively, and ooze quality and tight musicianship. The production values are very good, although possibly overdone in some places, such as the start of "Labyrinth" and in "Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour," which detracts from the rawness of the demo versions. However, given that over-production could have easily killed this album, it has generally been done in a way that has avoided blunting the aggression and hardcore elements, which are even more important than the electronics in the making of this band.
I strongly recommend looking into this album if you have not done so already and certainly check them out live if possible, as Enter Shikari put on one of the most outstanding live performances of any band out there today. This album is not brilliant, but its standout tracks like "Sorry You're Not a Winner," "OK Time for Plan B" and "Return to Energiser" are. And that is what makes this album a great debut release.