Enter Shikari - Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible

‘Is this a new beginning? Or are we close to the end?’

Beginning their first album since 2017’s acclaimed The Spark, Rou Reynolds asks a question that it seems we’ve been asking every other week for the last three years. In typical Enter Shikari fashion, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible perfectly sums up the ‘shit on it’ vibe the latter half of the 2010s had – and, in the words of frontman Rou Reynolds, ‘reflects on a society where possibility itself has drifted from something of optimistic opportunity to something quite frightening’.

For a band that evolves constantly, Shikari knows what to keep the same. Big questions, big concepts – Enter Shikari have always been a band to broach to bigger issues. Even with Rou’s exploration of his anxiety on The Spark, seemingly the brunt of his problems were universal, with Brexit and Donald Trump usually blamed. If Rou ever looks inside himself, it’s usually to speak about what he can or can’t do, and not what he’s experienced. But as Rou tentatively taps into something more personal, we get touching results – ‘Satellites’ is a frustrated but refreshingly positive ode to LGBTQ love, Rou belting ‘I think it could be love, but I can’t show you enough’. Thematically, Enter Shikari have conquered their world, and are successfully broaching a space, to them, unknown.

A critique that could be had of Shikari – The Mindsweep era, specifically – is that they went a bit serious and on the nose. Earlier stuff like Gandhi Mate, Gandhi was partly so good because it was laddish, angry, and cool. Screaming “Yabba dabba do one son!” at a Shikari gig felt wild. But when The Mindsweep came along, it seemed like only The Anaesthetist had that angry swagger about it – worse still, it seemed like they’d given up any attempt at being subtle. Dear Future Historians was a moment Shikari died for me because they’d started taking themselves too seriously.

Enter Shikari aren’t lads anymore, so it’s no surprise that The Spark and Nothing is True and Everything is Possible didn’t bring that back. But whereas The Mindsweep might have been a quarter-life crisis, now Shikari know who they are – they’ve replaced whatever was missing with equals parts clever wordplay and the return of a little sarcasm, a la The King. And while Crossing The Rubicon is Rou’s chance to flex his intellectuality, he manages to make us feel inspired rather than preached on. Return the golden days of yore? Not so much, but there are better paths ahead.

Settling into a genre doesn’t work for Shikari. There’s their signature neon synths and the fact that an Enter Shikari DJ set is almost as sound as seeing the full ensemble. But Everything is Possible is the side of the coin Shikari have embraced in this album. It’s their attempt to take on everything to a higher level – they’ve taken on classic music alongside the City of Prague Symphony Orchestra, orchestrated a circus ditty Jean Baudrillard would be proud of, even gone almost pop in a nice mid-album break.

Flipside, the lead singles for this album are obvious on a first listen. The really, really good tracks on this album are {The Dreamers Hotel} and T.I.N.A - the traditional Shikari that leans into the post-hardcore scene that first welcomed them back in 2007. Heavy guitars and electric synths create a mentos-coke moment for Shikari, they always have. It’s what creates that breath lifting, 'I can do anything' moment. Nothing is real. Everything is possible. Let’s change the world.

The Spark garnered a lot of Biffy Clyro-esque comparisons. The pop-rock of it all was – is – undeniable, as it the comparison of Rou’s iconic southern enunciation to Biffy’s sexy Scotsman. But they’re not Shikari – no one is. The closest we’ve had is maybe late Letlive. (RIP) or Pendulum, but even they can’t capture the humorous, no bounds untouched approach that our English lads have. The beauty of Shikari is in their everchanging face. If you were trying to catch up to Shikari, you’d have to start by looking for everything they’re not.

Maybe an album angry at the world isn’t what you think you need right now. But the Shikari brand is knowing what you can do, and making it happen. Sarcasm, beats, and optimistic activism? Sounds like what we need. The worst part about this album is that you’ll have to wait for the rescheduled tour dates in November to see it live.