Let’s get one thing straight – in terms of working hard, getting a bit of luck along the way and being in the right place at the right time to cash in on a musical trend (whether the band meant to or not), Enter Shikari probably deserve their 15 minutes of fame. Getting this type of music on daytime national radio and into the singles and album charts is no mean feat, so fair play to them for doing what they’ve done.
However, it doesn’t make ‘Take To the Skies’ a good album, nor does it make Enter Shikari a good band. And while their work ethic is impressive, their songwriting abilities certainly aren’t. The basic fact is ‘Take To The Skies’ is a generic, predictable ‘screamo’ album inter-laced with samples. Take away the beats and ‘nu-rave’ bits and this is just more of the same banal drivel that’s eminated from a stale music scene. The fact the samples and beats have co-incided with a resurgance in rave (stand up Klaxons) has given Enter Shikari a leg up over many bands who play a similar type of music. Truth be told, there are about three genuinely good songs on this album. The rest is utter tosh. And yes, I know I will get flamed by a million hoodie-wearing kids, but let’s face facts – there are a lot of bands who do this type of thing and they do it better – they just don’t rely on electronics to make them stand out.
We’ll start with the good songs. ‘Mothership’ has a euphoric opening and is probably the only song that has some genuine cohesion – Rou’s screaming sounds thick and emotive, the backing gang vocals stand out and the samples appear to be there as a main instrument, not just thrown willy-nilly as a backing track. The breakdowns are impressive and the song as a whole flows better than nearly any other on the album. It has a cracking melody too, something you cannot say about many of the other songs. ‘Anything Can Happen…’ is quite impressive too, again there’s structure and cohesion and the band create a euphoric feeling to go alongside the singalong verses and chorus. The best song here by a country mile is ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’, a track which again has some semblence of a tune. The gang vocals are inspired, the handclaps sound great and this is genuinely a great song. The quiet bit at almost 2-minutes in does prove the band can write genuinely good songs.
It’s just a pity the remaining 14 songs are little more than filler, flirting between generic screamo bullshit and a mess of screaming, breakdowns and samples thrown together in a bid to be ‘different’, neglecting the fact that somewhere in amongst the mess there should be a song. ‘Jonny Sniper’ is absolutely awful, ‘Today Won’t Go Down In History’ emo-by-numbers. Add to the fact the vast majority of the songs are re-writes and new recordings of songs that have been kicking around for sometime and…well, you can just tell I don’t really like this record at all.
The simple fact is this album does not live up to the hype. The problem Enter Shikari have is while trying to carve their own niche into a tired and predictable genre – which ultimately they have to be commended for – they’ve made a pig’s ear out of doing it. Throwing beats and samples in for the sake of it does not guarantee success – and while there’s no doubt they’ll be around for the whole of 2007, if they want to break out of being a fad band taking advantage of a pathetic fashion trend, they really need to up the ante on album number two. After all, nu-rave will only last so long – and I’m sure the next fashion trend will come along with its own wave of bands.
If this is the future of music, as Zane Lowe and others have tried to tell us, quite simply, we’re fucked.