The Singles Party: Enter Shikari, “Rat Race”

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“Enter Shikari dropped a new single a day or so ago and it’s FUCKING RAD. I’d love to see what y’all have to say about their third and final in a string of singles this year.” When our chief designer, resident hip-hop head and senior writer Nick Porcaro gets excited about a song, there’s no way we can not review it on the Singles Party.

Nick Porcaro: I’ve been aboard the Enter Shikari hype train for almost six years now (thanks Kyle!) and “Rat Race” confirms what I long believed: these Brits are raising the bar for any and all rockers daring enough to break out the synthesizers. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Shikari’s style is unparalleled. Their once-awkward, formerly trendy fusion of dubstep, metalcore and pop-punk now sounds entirely organic in the wake of 2012’s artistic and commercial triumph A Flash Flood of Colour.

Never a group to sacrifice momentum, the fearlessly innovative band dropped three more singles throughout 2013; “Rat Race” fits nicely in between the blink-and-it’s-over punk frenzy of “The Paddington Frisk” and the epic, anthemic “Radiate“. It’s a tightly crafted single that hits all the Shikari signatures: there are shrieks of melodic dissonance, a fiercely syncopated drum riff, wonderfully tacky synth horns all over the place, dramatic breakdowns and passionate vocals from frontman Rou Reynolds and bassist Chris Batten.

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All that in less than three and a half minutes!

“Rat Race” chronicles the frustration of many a twenty-something stuck inside an antiquated, answerless class system, and though Reynolds’ cry of “You know what? Let’s get disqualified!” may not be the most practical solution, it’s what Enter Shikari does better than anyone—the sound of defiant, high-octane escapism. Don’t miss it. Verdict: Add to playlist!

Kelly Spoer: I don’t listen to this music. like. it makes me cringe. So instead of being all like “OMG TURN THIS SHIT OFF YOU ARE MAKING MY EARS BLEED” So I stopped halfway through. Never to listen again. Which is sad, because the singer has a fantastic beard. Verdict: One and done.

Jason Stives: Enter Shikari is one of those bands that have to be seen to believe when it comes to their live performances. It’s a whirl wind of energy that somehow finds time to be intricate and have a level of grandeur that pisses off all oppositions i.e. critics and one dimensional fans who keep things simple. With 2012’s “A Flash Flood of Colour” even this reviewer found time to appreciate what the band has been doing and “Rat Race” as a track continues that. With it’s end of days prophesying why the continuous run around of life is pointless you have music that emphasizes the point with a brass exchange near the songs end combined with a manic mix of guitars and synthesizers. I’m normally past this music as I have exhausted myself of most of the energy this music normally helped me release but the musicianship really keeps this song very interesting and quite a surprise to behold. Verdict: Add to the Playlist

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Jason Kundrath: Admittedly, this sort of thing isn’t my cup of tea. In fact, this type of hyper-frenetic, screaming/singing, schizophrenic madness usually comes off like an ADHD nightmare to my ears. And after a cursory listen on my iPhone, I was ready to tear this track to pieces. When I gave it a proper stream on my speakers, however, it got its hooks into me right away, and I found myself in step with Enter Shikari’s galloping syncopations, intense riffage, face-melting breakdowns, and the singing as well as the screaming. Maybe I need to reevaluate my take on this genre. Verdict: Add to playlist.

Bill Bodkin: During the initial seconds of Enter Shikari’s “Rat Race” I hated it. This was to “woah crazy crazy” for me. However, by the end of the song I was totally digging it. The dual personalities of this track word together beautiful — the chaos and the harmony work together in perfect harmony. The song is at parts bad ass and at parts an anthemic sing-a-long. Simply put, this is a one-of-a-kind song that deserves multiple listens. Verdict: Add to the playlist.

Final Verdict: Enter Shikari really knocked it out of the park. While the negative criticisms are pretty intense, the love for the foursome’s latest singles wins out in the end.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.