‘Abusing music’s worthless genre boundaries since 2003’ is their tagline, and it’s something that Enter Shikari have held true ever since their formation that year. Every album they’ve released has been different; from the grit and punk nature of 2007’s brilliant debut Take to the Skies right through to the electronic, politically charged A Flash Flood of Colour, it’s been a joy to watch the St. Alban’s quartet rise to be one of the biggest forces in British music this millenium. This Monday coming sees the release of the fourth big chapter in their career: The Mindsweep, which has already gained rave reviews and the notion that the band have outdone themselves yet again. Well, let’s find out…
One thing that Shikari have proved over the years is that they are very meticulous with their lyrics. Each word is projected with an air that it has been carefully chosen to be in place, not just written down in the heat of a creative moment. Once again, the state of the UK and the world is the overriding theme throughout the album, with Rou Reynolds making another call to arms straight away that we must all unite and keep our planet in good health and order. The band are also still jumping in with all guns blazing and attacking many current affairs points with a huge amount of bite. Lead single The Last Garrison reminds us to be thankful that we are living and moving whilst second single Anaesthetist gives both barrels to the proposed privatisation of the NHS and There’s a Price on Your Head brilliantly sticks two middle fingers up to the class system and finishes with a bastardised use of classical strings. Perhaps most potent however, in amongst the fire and the bedlam, is the moving piano-led Dear Future Historians… which brings a calm over proceedings and the builds up again for schizophrenic closer The Appeal & the Mindsweep II that includes a snippet of breakthrough song ‘Sorry, You’re Not a Winner’ and if you listen closely enough, ‘Dance of the Knights’ from Romeo and Juliet, used as the theme to BBC show ‘The Apprentice’. The electronic elements are still as dynamic as ever, and what is still assuring is that Reynolds is still capable of producing harsh vocals that allow for a different kind of heaviness than through the music.
In fact, there’s only one negative aspect that I can find to The Mindsweep – and that’s all too often the comparisons with previous material is crystal clear. The aforementioned Dear Future Historians…, for example, follows almost the exact same structure as Adieu, Fanfare for the Conscious Man and Constellations; the same, in terms of lyrics, applies to The Appeal & the Mindsweep I, which echoes the message given to us during Common Dreads and System…. And when you look at it in that way, suddenly you begin to wonder whether Enter Shikari have anywhere else to go in their career, whether what we’re hearing now is the band at their very peak and they’ll never reach headier heights.
Only time will tell, of course, and make no mistake – Enter Shikari have once again given us an album of class and stature that will carry a disjointed generation forward by speaking their own thoughts. The feeling that they’ve reached a plateau, however, is all too present.
Roughton ‘Rou’ Reynolds – vocals, electronics
Chris Batten – bass, vocals
Liam ‘Rory’ Clewlow – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals
Rob Rolfe – drums, percussion, backing vocals
The Appeal & the Mindsweep I
The One True Colour
The Last Garrison
Never Let Go of the Microscope
The Bank of England
There;s a Price on Your Head
Dear Future Historians…
The Appeal & the Mindsweep II