Enter Shikari – Common Dreads
Record Label: Ambush Reality
Release Date: June 15, 2009
It’s not enough to just sing about politics. Being “aware” doesn’t count for shit when Dude A is dragging Dude B from his pickup truck. At some point our scene heroes fixed their relationship problems and decided to turn their attention to the world at large. And despite pundits around the blogosphere pinpointing the demise of our lackluster culture as the fault of some asshole in tight jeans and diarrhea beats, it’s actually these “intelligent” individuals who are siphoning out all the fun. Rather than appearing “tuned in” (not a drug reference!), these visionaries sound the same as their broken-hearted forbearers. Whining is complaining is crying. I’ll give Enter Shikari and their schizophrenic frontman Rou Reynolds some credit though: there is more than just incessant whining on Common Dreads. When Reynolds roars over Armageddon-inspired breakdowns a mildly clichéd phrase like, “We are the grassroots resistance!,” well, I feel a tingle of inspiration. It’s as they say, sparks start fires.
Don’t misinterpret my overwhelming apathy. Rou Reynolds is never going to speak at a Uni’s commencement ceremony, but he doesn’t have to. Just because his band failed at inspiring me to join some “cause” doesn’t mean they’re misguided. Throwing socially motivated lyrics over grimy club beats might catch some drunk kid's ear and rouse him into action. My resistance stems from years of, well, resistance; forced cynicism grounded in the foolish notion that it would be some sort of original comedy bit. So don’t listen to me. Listen to Rou and ES. They care and, at the very least, that’s cool.
Sickening world views aside, let’s rejoice in one point: Common Dreads is much better than Take To The Skies. I had a feeling ES would figure themselves out, because the six good songs on their former release still weasel their way into my regular rotation. Opener “Solidarity” instantly mesmerizes with rapid-fire synths and explosive riffs. It’s the sort of thing you hope lasts throughout Common Dread’s 15-tracks, but it’s also near impossible to keep up this brutality without sacrificing the melody. That balancing battle is the bane of Enter Shikari’s existence. Cases in point: “The Jester” abandons all musicality for nothing in particular and “Gap In The Fence” is some sort of acoustic joke; no half-hearted techno climax can save that screeching mess. For each faulty song (there are 4 in total), there's a winner like “Juggernauts,” which works due to a downbeat climax playing as wonderful counterpart to the song’s later mixture of stuttering riffs and angry gang vocals.
Even the intermission tracks (“Havoc A,” “Havoc B” and "Halcyon") evade the boredom brought on by their predecessors by acting as acid-washed (that's a drug reference!) dance numbers instead of spots to breathe. Everything about Common Dreads is bigger and more realized. “Antwerpen” is catchy whilst still scraping our knees with pissed-off “La La Las”; “Hectic” moves forward on the legs of Reynolds’ much-improved electronics. It’s a dance party for the end of the world. And f**k me for typing that, but Common Dreads reminds me why loud music succeeds so readily. It’s an avenue to let it all go, and Common Dreads is an outlet of mammoth proportions.
Recommended If You Like: Sky Eats Airplane, I Have Clones, bank runs, electroEmery, gold rushes