The follow-up to 2015's Mindsweep, The Spark will likely divide fans who skew toward the English rockers' post-hardcore tendencies, as it boasts their most commercial-sounding set of songs to date. A nervy amalgam of the Streets, the Futureheads, Passion Pit, Everything Everything, Against Me!, and Bring Me the Horizon, Enter Shikari have delivered an album that bristles with the myriad tensions of 2017, from Brexit to Trump and everything in between, with mixed results. Opening on a hopeful note with the anthemic "The Sights," The Spark begins to distill its discontent on the propulsive "Live Outside," a jerky panic attack of a track with a road trip-ready earworm chorus, and again on "Take My Country Back," which is a little too on the nose. Both cuts are indicative of what follows, which is a largely radio-friendly amalgam of electropop, grime, and dance-rock that's been run through the emo filter. If that formula sounds compelling, then there's a lot to love here, especially on some of the more idiosyncratic offerings like "Airfield" and "Shinrin-yoku," but listeners expecting to bloody themselves in the electronicore, stadium-screamo assault of past outings might want to take a pass.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger