Enter Shikari

Common Dreads

Written by: TL on 11/07/2009 16:13:03

Two years ago, when Enter Shikari dropped their debut album "Take To The Skies", critical reception was mixed, except from the 'scene', the members of which truly understood what a bombshell it was. Fusing rave music and hardcore for the first time ever, the British quartet started a wave of electronic influence that has since flooded substantial parts of a number of rock's heavier subgenres. Thus expectations for their sophomore "Common Dreads" have been even bigger than they are for 'normal' bands of promise. It has been out for about a month now, and from what I've been reading it is supposed to surpass "Take To The Skies" in every way. However, I'm not too sure I agree.

If one sticks to technicalities though, it is hard to fault the statement. "Common Dreads" has simply got more of everything, and especially the versatility in the electronic department has been broadened considerably. There is more texture, more to listen for so to speak. The level of ambition has also been raised a great deal, as the band themselves have declared that this is the album on which they abandon speaking about petty personal issues and instead attempt to map some of the greater issues of (British) society. This all has resulted in an album that seems to have three defining characteristics. First is an echoing soundscape that seems to be an inflated version of that of "Take To The Skies", setting the stage for some more epic content. Second is an ever more dominating obsession with Pendulum's ingenious danceable sample/rhythm combination. Third is vocalist Rou's passionate and attitude-filled, yet not especially vocally impressive, delivery of socio-critical lyrics.

This then, is where I have my problem with "Common Dreads". On one hand it is a dance album that will add to the band's live palette, and on the other it is an album that calls for social awareness. Seldom however, does the beats and grooves actually contribute to the mood Rou is trying to establish with his words, and this can make the album an oddly disconnected experience if you're trying to take it all in at once. Then you could of course also just ignore the lyrical content and dance along to just the music, but without the lyrical highlights, the album just feels a lot less infectious than its predecessor - And really that's the key issue. There are simply fewer singalongs built into this if you ask me.

That being said, there are some great moments on here, present mostly when those samples are the most overblown and dominating. That's when you feel the mood and start wishing you could soon rave with Enter Shikari again. Check out "Antwerpen" or "The Jester" for a taste of just how cool those moments can be. And then there are the scarce moments where you actually can sing along, like on track two, "Solidarity" or on the super catchy "No Sleep Tonight".

Now before I go on a spree naming tracks that are indeed good listens, I think everything really boils down to this: "Common Dreads" is indeed a good album, partly for the unity of it's fusion of rave parties and punk rebellion, partly for the playful creativity littered in moments all over it. It's harder to become friends with than "Take To The Skies" was, and there are enough details I can complain about for it to be banned from the epic ratings it has been given elsewhere, but it still comes highly recommended, especially if you're a fan of Enter Shikari or Pendulum already. So yeah, it's a good album, though I consider it to be at least half a grade below its predecessor, even if we didn't grade that accordingly back in the day. You can hold that down to us not knowing what we're doing.

8

Download: Antwerpen, No Sleep Tonight, The Jester, Juggernauts, Solidarity,
For The Fans Of: Pendulum, Innerpartysystem
Listen: myspace.com/entershikari

Release Date 09.06.2009
Ambush Reality

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