By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
Ooooooooooh baby! Everyone’s favourite electronic post-hardcore kick to the face Enter Shikari are back with a new track, titled Live Outside, and you betcha, it’s… it’s… it’s…
A bit tame actually. Like it’s porridge. Not that there’s anything wrong with porridge, but you’d rather enjoy a big fuck off breakfast and steaming mug of coffee. No coffee? Maybe a cuppa, then. Maybe a nice glazed donut. That’s what you come to expect from Enter Shikari, they’re the big fuck off breakfast, but a big fuck off breakfast just isn’t enough, they’re actually pouring hot coffee down your trousers now. On the whole, they’re brash, they’re uncouth and they come with a message of community, peace, and love, but on the surface, Live Outside doesn’t feel like it has any of this.
Live Outside however, feels like it’s trying to appeal to everyone, instead of their usual niche market. Not depart so heavily from their authentic sound that the Upside Down Triangle Enthusiasts go off the boil, but at the same time, create a musical Masala compared to their usual Jalfrezi. It is a mainstream, fun-for-all-the-family sound, which, whilst this track is a biiiiiiiiit bland and feels like it’s lacking… something… this is exactly what Enter Shikari should be doing right now to take their message to the masses.
That’s not to jump on the Pop Bad, Rock Good bandwagon that underwhelming acts with underwhelming albums jump onto when they start tearing their hair out and screaming about ‘real music’. But it just feels like it’s lacking something. Of course, it’s a stripped back sound, but it just feels like they could have produced the poppy, easy-on-the-ears sound, but come in with a bit of a uppercut when you’re not looking, or thrown a chilli or two into the pan to give it a bit of extra spice.
Lyrically, it doesn’t make much sense on the surface. Have Enter Shikari traded their political calls-to-arms and deep, soulful songs for some nonsense? Of course not. Don’t be daft. Lyrically, Live Outside is based around anxiety & mental health, which makes a lot of sense, and is something that Rou has openly spoken about over the years, and it’s fantastic to yet again see another well-known artist weave it into their work. It’s not too on the nose, and keeps the warm, syrupy feel of the song. You can pour this in your ears and it’ll feel good. Pour a track like Sssssnakepit in your ears and you’ll explode.
Or maybe perhaps the lyrics are about a protragonist who has grown tired of their house, is sick of trying to tame a horse, and is going to live, outside (ahaha, see?) in the woods, naked. Maybe. Art is all about interpretation.
This is actually quite a mainstream song, which could arguably get a lot of airtime? Surely Enter Shikari, the independent instigators haven’t sold out? Nope, they’re planning to take their niche offering & powerful message to the masses. Some time ago, frontman Rou Reynolds did state the following, on popular screaming bucket of twats, Twitter:
“Enough. Our next album will bring our message to the masses. I want to reach as many people as possible. We will give this EVERYTHING.”
Is Live Outside the pinkie-in-the-pool before launching a full blown assault on the mainstream? Will a stripped back, poppy sound be the soundtrack of the inevitable uprising about the greed and evil that has gripped our society?
Yeah sure, Live Outside is a bit of a tame, poppy track compared to the usual million-synth symphony followed by a breakdown so low that Barbados Slim couldn’t get underneath it, but Shikari shouldn’t be rodded at all for going off the beaten path to try and reach out to a larger audience. This easy-on-the-ears stripped back sound is the perfect way to take their message to the masses. Sure, it’s a bit tamer compared to past offerings, yeah, but this is all part of their plan to carve out a bigger audience.
As a side note/question/criticism, should they have teamed up with LadBible to get this message out? Not really, it’s a bit tone deaf when you consider that the average Shikari fan isn’t a banter-and-stolen-content enthusiast, and the average it’s-not-sexist-if-it’s-banter LadBible reader spent most of Monday afternoon wondering who the fuck Ender Shakira were. Nobody wins here, lads.
On the whole, as long as their new album The Spark contains those famous synth-and-arsekicking heavy hitters, there should be enough with tracks like Live Outside to take their message of peace, love, hope and community to the masses, whilst keeping their faithful hardcore fans happy as they’re being sonically beaten up by four lads from Hertfordshire.