Enter Shikari – The Spark



We are the dust on the stained glass windows, trying to comprehend the cathedral…

It’s been a long time since I bought a pop record but hell, it’s happened and it’s brilliant.

The Spark is a people’s album. Homely as a hot drink, 41 minutes hides a delicate touch, a new Shikari – one aimed at infiltrating mediocrity, grabbing the bar and flinging it back to where it should be.

Turning inward, The Spark is a far cry from the scathing political stirrings known of the St Albans lot. Swapping climate change for ponderings on mental health, there’s a quiet sincerity in all. Just why do we choose to put ourselves through it? In 2017, Enter Shikari finds voice in attempting to answer whilst reckoning with the heartbreaking truth that we’ll almost certainly never know.

Frontman Rou Reynolds’ quivering plucks in the final moments of An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces is testament to the true heart of The Spark. A reflection of his losing both grandparents and long time girlfriend in the space of two years, it’s a bare-all we’ve rarely seen from the lads and Rou’s mourning is but the punctuation on a love letter to resilience and brutal honesty.

Those Shikari staples, British cheek and big synth bouncers, continue to trade blows like brothers, though deliberately downplayed this time is the ire. There’s no doubt that Rou’s yells and Liam “Rory” Clewlow’s rumbling breakdowns will be missed but if this is a new dawn for the foursome, a stirring series of falsettos, anthemic choruses and synth explosions are most welcome. It’s still Shikari and exemplifies why those who love this band do so to ends of the Earth. As with those ‘abusing music’s worthless genre boundaries since 2003’, Enter Shikari is a band confident in its direction, sights now squarely on making things better for all.

I’m thankful that The Spark has the last decade of mainstream narcissism but a blip in the rear-view. From the kind-eyed smile of The Sights to Airfield’s rousing lift-off, the boys have crafted a new timeline for pop – a wormhole from the 90s to now, skipping by all the pointless mirror gazing.

Yes, the people’s music has back its heart and good as new, we owe it all to those who tracked it down.

Enter Shikari – The Spark

The Miltones – self-titled


Break through this exterior of mine, I have the images to your lifeline…

Imaginations run wild as the world of Milly Tabak and The Miltones welcomes you in. From jaunty opener Pursed Lips, a genuine care is evident, not to mention a smile so warm it risks setting fire to half of west Auckland. The quintet’s debut soundscape conjures a special place: one measured in magic and in memory.

Utter reassurance that the undefinable will start making more sense should we stop dwelling on the ‘why’ and simply look to those who’ve helped us find our way, words like ‘arcane’, ‘poignant’ and ‘bewitching’ can spring forth when wandering this sometimes daunting land. Curb all descriptors, as otherworld lacquer to keys, guitars and Tabak’s quiet intensity build yearning for a thesis than an entrée of adjectives.

As in Tabak’s lamentations, the young group’s debut keeps distilled (Mothers Ruin) and acts as a meditation on grief and wonder. A declaration of keeping spirits high (and close) throughout well… everything, a mood brews as thick as molasses but origins remain hidden, giving the record the air of a dream whose details have faded but fervour holds true.

The hypnotic and shivering howls of Gypsy Queen, whirling fantasy of The Wanderer, and knee-slapping bluegrassian Dancing With The Dead, The Miltones is a nuanced journey teeming with life and love. Eleven tracks mysterious and evocative, the record moves an aural Rorschach and ponders what we cling to, and what we choose to let go.

A dawn trek into the woods, The Miltones is to stumble across a beautiful old cabin. You’re not sure how it got there and at this time of day, you can’t even be sure that it’s real. It doesn’t matter. Smile, and feel damned lucky to have been passing through.

The Miltones – self-titled

More for less – refuse to pay for Spotify, still buy CDs

sportifyFor someone who prides themselves on being highly practical, turns out I’m really thick when it comes to music. What is it about drowning in choice that’s so unappealing? Well, almost certainly the ‘drowning’, but the sentiment remains: aren’t we all just so bloody spoiled nowadays? No longer do we hang around the house for four hours waiting for someone to call in order to make cinema plans, but look me in the eye and tell me there wasn’t something exciting about all that lurking?

As I trudge the mud and torrential downpour of tunes now available on platforms like Spotify, I can’t get no satisfaction… well, none akin to the shot of ink straight to the brain that comes from shoving your nose into a fresh inlay and inhaling violently. It’s taken years for me to even consider trying an online music platform, so I’ll be backing Trump before start investing in one. CDs to me are how I imagine Jesus is to Christians, or olives to those craving a slow, salty death. There’s just not quite anything that soothes the entitled rage of this shoulder glancer than a bit of paper and a bit of plastic near equivalent size.

To try and define my love for physical media I’ll jump on the dirty obvious: it’s something! No, really. With the CDs of old, often you received a veritable goody bag for your dosh: 1x booklet or inlay, 1x compact disc, (if you’re lucky) 1x DVD, and if you’re really lucky, maybe a undersized shirt or a Limp Bizkit beanie with the logo off-centre. Tat obviously, but things that you could hold and somewhat justify that twenty three dollar, the-equivalent-of-two-supermarket-chickens, reckless as hell purchase.

In contrast, the most recent digital pre-order I’ve stumbled over may as well have come with a PDF of a middle finger and barely-acceptable racial statement. A six second preview of the album – why not just give me nothing? No, really – why not just give me nothing at all? What, do they think people are going to be adding this Napalm Death-esque, joke of an audio file to their playlists, chucking it on repeat at parties in the hope that someone in the same car accident recognises it? Actually, I can’t blame the label. Obviously someone is taking the piss, that’s the only way I accept this being an actual incentive for financially backing something you love.

That being said, last month did see me finally cave and install the Spotify player on my computer. Aand… it’s really good. Not only is it good, it’s free? The only price to pay is listening to the odd 15 second commercial every 20 or so minutes? Unbelievable, I feel like I’m pulling a fast one and Spots have just yet to realise their idiocy. Here comes free music forever, because those commercials have me think I’m listening to the best damned radio station in the world, one catering completely to me and with such a good recommendation algorithm that it may as well be paired with my consciousness, which, in fact, it is! And strike two, because little do they realise that how cheap a bastard I am that I’ll never pay for anything I can’t sniff!

So, I’ll keep buying my CDs you keep up the good work, Spotify. You’ve now introduced a service into my life that I’m bound to get uppity about once you’ve sobered and come to terms with the horrible mistake you made last night.

More for less – refuse to pay for Spotify, still buy CDs