Enter Shikari: Their 10 Best Songs

Ranking the band's finest tracks...

Chris Batten. Rob Rolfe. Rory C. Rou Reynolds. It may have taken 20 years, but it feels like the world’s greatest crossover act, Enter Shikari, are finally getting their flowers. 

Sure, St Albans’ finest have long had their legions of fans across the globe, but it’s always felt – considering the consistent greatness of their output and their ability to mould elements of metal, dance, pop, grime and a multitude of other genres into cohesion, that they have been one of Britain’s more underrated bands. Thankfully this seems to have all changed in the last year, as the genre-bending quartet are finally getting the recognition and popularity they’ve long deserved. Their latest release ‘A Kiss For The Whole World’ earned them their first ever #1 on the UK Albums Chart at the seventh time of trying in April last year and now they’re just about to embark on their biggest ever UK Arena tour, which starts in Leeds this Friday.

With this in mind, there’s arguably no better time to run through their extensive discography and choose their top ten best songs. Every song from their seven studio albums, all their standalone singles and B-sides were fair game for this one and, because Enter Shikari love themselves a two-parter, where appropriate we’ve combined these into one placement. 

So, are you staying awake for the lift off? Good – here’s the ranking:

10. Satellites** (Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible, 2020)

Just a beautiful song that I can’t help but feel would’ve had greater commercial success if it was released outside of COVID times. That said on the flip side, it was arguably granted more emotional heft for being released at a time when a lot of people were deprived of being intimate and having a basic connection with their loved ones. 

Shikari have always been advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, but this song is a soaring pop anthem in which they openly display their empathy to the cause in a way few other bands have even dared (“I don’t like the limelight, so we don’t hold hands in daylight.”) As Rou himself describes it “It’s a love song from the perspective of someone who doesn’t feel they can show their love properly because of fear.“ Simultaneously moving and uplifting, it is without a doubt one of their most important songs to date.

9. Torn Apart (The Mindsweep, 2015)

If you’ve ever seen Enter Shikari live, you’ll know that Rou Reynolds is a fan of greeting the crowd as “homosapiens and carbon-based lifeforms.” This is the beautiful way in which he sees humanity, not as something that should be divided by race or creed, but as one singular people capable of incredible things when they bond together. 

On ‘Torn Apart’, Rou speaks of how the concept of separate races has held humanity back and kept us divided for years, despite biological questions over its actual existence. It’s a song that is also as sonically satisfying as it is lyrically powerful, boasting an opening riff that dates back to the band’s early origins in 2003, a delicate falsetto vocal from Rou, and a triumphant, synth-driven finale that will have you on your feet. 

8. Marionettes (I. The Discovery of Strings) / Marionettes (II. The Ascent) (Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible, 2020)

Honestly would love for Shikari’s theatrical sixth album to one day be turned into a musical or opera, with this ambitious two-part song the centrepiece for a dramatic third act. The narrative of the piece describes puppets discovering that they’re being controlled, before then climbing up their strings to see where they lead and to which master. The overriding message is it’s always better to know the truth, no matter how painful, than to live a lie (“Truth hurts, now you know truth frees”).

The instrumentation throughout both parts is just glorious, beginning on cinematic horns before transitioning into some rumbling drum & bass and sparkling synths. The vocals in part two are some of their best too, with Rou shifting between passionate cries of “Our minds are firewood” and his well-versed falsetto. One of the most ambitious works in their catalogue and yet they pull it off with flying colours. 

7. Undercover Agents (The Spark, 2017)

Have you ever heard a song with more melodic hooks than this one? 

In terms of Shikari’s foray into poppier territory this is their magnum opus for me, with every corner of this track digging into your subconscious with its inescapable joyousness. As ever there’s a strong message at the core too about escaping the pressures of social media and the act of putting on a disguise for your public persona (“I don’t want the glass, I want to see the truth.”) Whilst the production is polished, there is still a raw primal energy to the track particularly on the occasional vocal cries and instinctive “Woahs!” This only helps to amplify the song’s suggestion to break free from the filters and get back to the natural. 

Whilst I’m sure there’s some fans of Shikari’s hardcore side that would have this nowhere near the top of the pile, I think this Top 10 spot is well-earned.

6. Bloodshot / Bloodshot (Coda) (A Kiss For The Whole World, 2023)

Sticking with the theme of analysing the negative effects of social media, we arrive at the highest placed track from their most recent album. 

Channelling the influence of their forefathers The Prodigy with the distorted “I’m so hypnotised” vocals, Rou speaks apathetically of the way in which social media drives a tribal hive mentality and spreads disinformation into our society. As great and thought-provoking as the main track is though, it’s only further elevated by the Coda portion that follows, which may be one of the most exquisite arrangements the band have ever put to record. Simply put, it’s an utterly stunning orchestral composition that will successfully bring out all the goosebumps on your body. 

5. Destabilise (Destabilise, 2010)

It’s safe to say that Shikari are an independent band in every sense of the word – independent thought, independent label, independent music. 

So, when they had a brush with the bureaucracy of the major label/corporate side of the music biz around the time of ‘Common Dreads’, safe to say it wasn’t a world they were keen on staying in for long. Exiting sharpish, they thankfully returned to the independent world unscathed, armed with a vicious dose of anger and creativity out of which came their greatest non-album single to date – ‘Destabilise’. Liberating, explosive and packing a chorus you can sing your lungs out to, this song epitomises their uniquely independent spirit. For that reason, it belongs in the Top 5.

4. An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces (In Two Movements) (The Spark, 2017)

Beautiful. Devastating. Sublime. There are few songs in Enter Shikari’s entire discography that will punch you in the gut and emotionally affect you quite like this masterpiece (yeah I said it) that close’s their fifth album. As Rou lays bare his vulnerability, detailing feelings of helplessness and uncertainty following the end of his relationship and the loss of his nan, the lyrical content is deeply moving enough. But then in the second half when his voice starts to break and delicate strings begin to glide gracefully in the background, at that point it’s guaranteed to get you choked up. For all their cathartic, genre-blending bangers and nostalgic party-starters, to then deliver songs as forcefully resonate as this is quite remarkable and a testament to their excellence. 

3. Airfield (The Spark, 2017)

Don’t put those tissues away just yet. Just when you thought ‘An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces’ was Shikari’s emotional peak, they deliver a song as incredibly heartfelt and tender as this piano ballad. 

Perseverance has been a recurring theme in their music but no song tackles that subject with grace and beauty quite like this one. Mostly just Rou’s cracking falsetto and those sparse piano keys, it steadily builds to a hugely uplifting outro in which the band offer words of encouragement that any knockbacks or hardships are just part of life’s process. It also ends in one of the most devastatingly poignant lyrics Rou has ever written: “When the wind’s against you, re­mem­ber this in­sight: that’s the op­ti­mal con­di­tion, for birds to take flight. Now the wind’s against you, don’t give up the fight.” 

2. Sorry You’re Not A Winner (Take To The Skies, 2007)

You had to expect this right? The song that started it all was always going to be here, right near the top. Not necessarily because it’s better than the other 90 or so songs in their discography, but because of what it meant to Enter Shikari and their career. 

Whilst I’m sure the band themselves probably don’t have the same love for this song that their fanbase do, the fact remains that for a certain generation of teenagers at the time, this song hit like nothing they had ever heard before. Even with other genre crossover acts like The Prodigy and Linkin Park paving the way, Sorry You’re Not A Winner came along and it was just a different animal altogether. That impending wall of ravey synths, those short sharp guitar riffs, the duelling scream/clean vocals and, of course, the iconic CLAP CLAP CLAP. 

Whilst I admittedly may be looking at this one with some nostalgia-glazed/rose-tinted glasses, there’s no denying the impact this song had on the band’s career and the legions of followers it granted them. 

1. Dear Future Historians… (The Mindsweep, 2015)

For all the aggression and anger in their music at times, it can be easy to forget where Shikari’s music ultimately is coming from – a place of love. Yes, sometimes a harsh dose of the tough love, but definitely love above all else. However, occasionally they’ll write a song like Dear Future Historians and suddenly you’re reminded that everything they’re doing is indeed coming from the heart. 

Now for the most part this song is nothing more than a piano part written whilst on tour and one single take of vocals, recorded after Rou had consumed several glasses of red wine no less. The result though is a magical six-and-a-half-minute masterpiece, that builds beautifully from a sparse piano ballad into a colourful crescendo filled with gliding guitars, sweeping strings and hopeful horns. It’s a song that has since become synonymous with the band, with books and even their own online fanbase named after it. For that and so many other deserving reasons (don’t get me started on the song’s incredible imagery which I could unpack for days) this is arguably their best, most exquisite composition to date.

And that’s that! One of the best live acts on the planet and one of the best, most innovative British bands of the last 20 years. Whatever Shikari’s plans are beyond this UK arena tour, there’s no doubt us fans will still be here – standing like statues – waiting for whatever they deliver next.

Catch Enter Shikari at the following shows:

February
9 Leeds First Direct Arena
10 Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
12 Edinburgh O2 Academy
14 Manchester O2 Victoria Warehouse
15 Manchester O2 Victoria Warehouse
16 Cardiff International Arena
17 London OVO Arena Wembley

Words: Karl Blakesley
Photo Credit: Paul Harries

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