Enter Shikari – ‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’

By Gem Rogers

Is there any success story in the British alternative music scene quite like that of Enter Shikari? These four champions of the underdog, of intensely exciting live performances, of the weird, the wonderful and the fantastic – over the course of the last thirteen years, they’ve become interwoven in the fabric of all that we love, and there’s something poetic about their sixth studio album coming right at one of the strangest and most unsettling times many of us have ever seen (and, hopefully, ever will again). As a result, ‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’ represents more than another milestone in Enter Shikari’s career and staggering ascent. This is a soundtrack for the times, from a band easily at their most experimental – and for Enter Shikari, that’s saying something.

Latest single ‘The Great Unknown’ leads us in with apocalyptic tension, and as opening lines go, Shikari couldn’t have hit on something more appropriate for these pandemic-infused times if they’d had a crystal ball – “Is this a new beginning? Or are we close to the end?”. There’s a faint echo of desperation in front man Rou Reynolds’ voice through the chorus, confusion bouncing around on the electronic beats they do so incredibly well. There can be no doubt that we’re in for a wild ride on the 14 tracks that follow, and it doesn’t disappoint.

In amongst all their many musical influences and sounds, Shikari have also fully embraced their poppier side this time around, and it comes out to play early on during second track, ‘Crossing The Rubicon’, as upbeat, airy vocal melodies pair with hefty bass (and a Samuel Beckett quote, for good measure). ‘modern living…’ also features a gigantic chorus drenched in an anthemic, The Verve-style indie pop vibe, reflected too in the casual rhymes of the final minute that feel as though they’re delivered with a wry smile. Pair it with verses that dive straight into frantic grime/drum ‘n’ bass, and you’ve got an instant classic – like someone from the 90s finding themselves dropped in a futuristic dystopian wasteland (which, let’s face it, could just be 2020), it deftly sums up the mood of a generation in an age where capitalism is king.

It’s not only pop that makes itself known on ‘Nothing Is True…’, though. Setting the album clearly apart from anything they’ve done before, Shikari have now taken themselves into the realm of waltzes and classical music, and these tracks aren’t just the odd dabble for fun – they are full contributors to the album, elevating it to the next level. The mix of electronic instrumental interludes and building orchestral crescendos tell a story all of their own, each song forming the next chapter in this dystopic tale. There’s a phenomenal confidence in putting something like ‘Elegy For Extinction’ on a rock record, but Enter Shikari are far more than a rock band now, and that confidence is not misplaced. That cinematic feel is a huge part of what makes this album so incredibly captivating from beginning to end, drawing you into the experience with a sense of wonder and adventure  – and though this orchestral epic probably isn’t what anyone was quite expecting, at the same time it feels so much like it belongs that we couldn’t quite have expected anything else.

For those who love the rebellious, furious, danceworthy side of Enter Shikari’s sound, there’s plenty here to fuel that fire too; single ‘T.I.N.A.’ is a standout example, but there are elements of that attitude scattered throughout and it will, undoubtedly, be a pure riot when brought to the stage. And the lyrical mastery? Rest assured, that’s gone nowhere – they are as clever, acerbic, and thought provoking as ever, combining the meaningful with singalong highs. It’s music that could start a revolution as much as it could the best mosh pit this side of a Slayer show, striking the perfect balance that so many strive for but few achieve.

One of the magical things about Enter Shikari has been watching as they break free of any concept any boundaries, the traces of each leap evident across their career – and this album feels like the apex of that journey. It’s strange to say that something so connected to our social and political situation could still feel like a dose of escapism, but there is comfort and empowerment that comes in the togetherness; knowing that we are not alone, and there is still hope in the despair if we strive for change. Sharp, colourful, and immersive to the last, ‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’ proves once more why Enter Shikari are not only one of the best, but also one of the most important bands of our generation – and everything truly is possible.

GEM ROGERS

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