Review Summary: All over the place.
The Spark is a divisive album amongst Enter Shikari fans. For a band that started with a very metalcore album in Take to the Skies, it was disconcerting to long serving fans to hear that their fifth LP would be a far quieter, more reserved affair. That said, the quieter songs were often some of the best offerings from their previous albums, so it wasn't like the band had nothing to go on.
The Spark is okay. It's the overriding feeling I get when I listen to it. There are some great songs, there are some terrible songs, but the overall feeling of the album is 'Yeah, it's alright'. Opener The Sights is such a fun pop-rock anthem, with a huge chorus and sing-along lyrics, but the second song Live Outside is far less interesting in its presentation and feels a bit forced. Emotional piano-driven Airfield is immediately followed by Rabble Rouser, a song that seems to have been written solely to appease some of the fans of Enter Shikari's dubstep days.
There's no pacing to The Spark and it causes the whole album to feel lacklustre. Along with the aforementioned piano-to-edm transition, fun pop track Undercover Agents stutters into dark, bouncy The Revolt of the Atoms. It all feels very jarring, and it's as if the band didn't put any effort into making the album flow. I think the feel of The Spark on the whole could've been improved hugely by ordering the tracks more carefully.
The biggest problem with the album is that, for one so short (if you remove the two bookending instrumentals it tops out at 39 minutes), there are only a select few tracks that stand out. The Sights, Airfield, Undercover Agents and An Ode to Lost Jigsaw Pieces are all great songs, but that leaves the other four to be very forgettable. The worst of the bunch are Take My Country Back, a very thinly veiled Brexit protest song, and The Revolt of the Atoms, something you'd expect from a mid 00's indie band trying to be a bit more ballsy.
The Spark is frustrating. I want to like it, because secretly I'm still the Shikari superfan I was when I was seventeen, but there just isn't enough quality here for me to think anything other than 'meh'.