Enter Shikari – A Kiss For The Whole World

In early 2020 Enter Shikari released their successful sixth album, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible

While the album itself was well received, charting second in the album charts in the UK, wider world circumstances would mean that the band could play none of the songs live for the next two years. This created a state of limbo, with the band commenting that it felt like they had “ceased to exist.” In addition, Rou Reynolds experienced a bad case of writer’s block, a lack of direction which would only finally be overcome when the collective came back together to perform live in June 2021, headlining the Download Pilot. 

Performing live returned the inspirational spark that sits at the heart of Shikari, and shortly after, the band regrouped in an old, solar-paneled powered farmhouse to write new material. A Kiss For The Whole World is the result. Joyful, full of high-tempo beats, new direction, and throwbacks to old material. Like much of their catalog, this album contains too much variation to review in one go, so let’s go through it song by song.


Enter Shikari have always been good at ordering their songs in postproduction to make them feel like full albums. This is no exception. ‘A Kiss For The Whole World x’ instantly sucks you in via a trumpet riff, then explodes into three minutes of high-tempo electronic melody as Reynolds lays out a theme for what will come: “Be embraced, billions.” The opening salvo feels optimistic, celebratory, and new… but with several callbacks to old Shikari songs, already letting the diehard fans know that this album has been written with them in mind.


The album’s first single, ‘Pls Set Me On Fire,’ is frenetic, energetic, and already a firm live favorite. Reynolds switches between high-powered frantic notes and soft introverted melodies while the band keeps the octane-level intense beats pumping.


In the album’s second single, the persistent melody and emphasized drum beat provide ‘It Hurts’ with an impactful feeling. It gives the impression that Reynolds is shouting into the void, determined to convey the message of self-worth even if nobody is there to listen.


On first listen, ‘Leap Into The Lightning’ sounds like a poppier Enter Shikari song than many of the other offerings here, calling back to the melodies on ‘The Spark’ in 2017. However, further inspection reveals this is not quite the case. Catchy melodies give up the scene for a scream that then gets crushed by a top-heavy breakdown. This is THE quintessential Enter Shikari song, mixing genres in a way only they know how. You either love how they can pull off this stuff or are confused by it.


The first of the three interludes on the album, ‘Feed Your Soul’ is, in essence, an extension of ‘Leap into the Lightning.’ Using distorted vocals and drum and bass melodies to augment the ending of the previous song.


Starting as an orchestral piece in the style that might have been found on Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible. Reynolds’ vocals start almost hopeless and questioning, slowly figuring things out and getting gradually more hopeful as more and more instruments come into play. By the end, you are left with a feeling of optimism and uncertainty, as desperate screams still reside in the back of the song.


It is hard to describe Jailbreak, as it mixes all the previously discussed elements in this review into one song. The electronic melody, the inquisitive self-reflective lyrics, and the statement “I wish I was back in the dreamers’ hotel” all lead to an enormous sonic breakdown. Jailbreak feels overwhelming in the best kind of way. I can instantly see it being a fan favorite.


The third single off the album ‘Bloodshot’ has a heavy bass riff, emphasized by Rob Rolfe’s drums, creating a catchy earworm that is instantly identifiable and sonically interesting. Harking back to sensibilities, Enter Shikari have explored in past work, this explores anxieties of modern life, watching people make the same mistakes but cannot stop looking at the disasters.


‘Coda’ is the second of the interludes, an orchestral work less than 90 seconds long but still manages to pack in spellbinding melodic melodies.


While Enter Shikari have always been masters of mixing different genres inside their work, ‘Goldfish’ feels special. The band brings back the heavy rock elements you might have found in their earlier work while carefully introducing underlying sonic elements they have grown accustomed to using over their career. The politically heavy lyrics feel lifted straight from 2012’s A Flash Flood of Colour, but this feels like a song that could have only been written at this point in the band’s history. It is a fascinating exploration of how far the artist has come since their debut almost two decades ago.


Coming to the end of the album ‘Giant Pacific Octopus’ presents an instantly catchy melody full of self-reflective, yet optimistically delivered, lyrics “Does anybody even have a clue who they really are?” A philosophical conundrum that might have led to a bit of a breakdown if it was not so wrapped up in a high-beat rhythm that can’t help but leave a smile on your face.


The album ends with the last orchestral outro, ‘Giant Pacific Octopus Swirling Off Into Infinity…’ Made up of a range of rhythms and beats that might sound in a different piece of work disjointed. Here, however, it seems to sum up the album perfectly. Full of variation and emotion, this is the perfect end to an album that is, somehow, despite the incredible range of sounds on offer here, the most cohesive Enter Shikari have sounded in years.


This is not an album to be missed, a mix of old and new. In any sane universe, Enter Shikari would already be lauded as one of the most important British rock bands of the last twenty years. Listening to A Kiss For The Whole World, you can tell it was plainly written with the fans, and how they will translate it to live performance at the forefront of the mind. Equal parts electronic beats, orchestral elements, screamo, and even at times, ringing back to a classic heavy sound, the album feels like a celebration of everything the band has been. But it also presents a unique perspective that brings Enter Shikari howling full throttle into 2023.

A Kiss For the Whole World was released on April 21 via So Recordings.


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