Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep (Album Review)

After releasing their incredible third studio album A Flash Flood of Colour in January 2012, Enter Shikari embarked on the world tour of their careers. Having been on the road for a solid year and since filling in the time with festival appearances and more tour dates, it would have been easy to settle for what they had going for them.

Yet the work ethic of this band has been unquestionable. Having finely tuned their set to become one of the best live British alternative-rock bands today, it began to feel like it was all or nothing for their fourth release, The Mindsweep.

The album opens with The Appeal & The Mindsweep I, which serves almost as an introduction. As the electronic sounds typical of Enter Shikari gather momentum, singer Rou Reynolds kicks things off with an uplifting spoken word style, similar to the opening tracks of their previous releases. It’s not until 2 minutes in that we’re hit with the full force of Enter Shikari, a sound that’s done nothing but mature over time whilst simultaneously holding on to everything that makes this band what they are.

We’re then softly led into The One True Colour before it explodes into fast tempos and screams that make up a lot of the content on their debut album Take To The Skies. Next up are singles Anaesthetist and The Last Garrison and it’s here we’re given the confidence that this album could be the best material to come from this band. Packed with political meaning (Anaesthetist more specifically dealing with the topic of the NHS), an amazing combination of music genres and perfectly demonstrating why it’s almost impossible to place Enter Shikari in one specific genre, these singles could fill anyone with a contagious energy that makes this band special.

The messages are kept strong for the comparatively “chilled” Never Let Go of the Microscope. Here the English four-piece demonstrate their capabilities as musicians and songwriters, proving they can do more than just huge, full-on energy. Following tracks Myopia and Torn Apart make it nearly impossible to pick any particular outstanding tracks on this album. As they seamlessly switch between heavy guitars and catchy synth hooks, it’s simply not possible to predict which direction the songs could head when listening.

After an electronic interlude the political messages resume as the album draws to a close. The Bank of England gives listeners that aren’t a huge fan of the heavier side of the band a version of Enter Shikari they can enjoy without compromising their unique sound. A song which beautifully contrasts with the following track, There’s a Price On Your Head whilst maintaining the theme of critiquing capitalism. Showing perfectly how this band convey messages brilliantly without taking themselves too seriously, Reynolds rages about classes whilst being backed up by a wall of heavy guitars, aggressive drums and percussion.

The Mindsweep’s most tender moment comes in the form of 6 and a half minute Dear Future Historians…. For the most part, the beauty of Enter Shikari is that they produce music with a relevant, sincere message, which can also be enjoyed whilst overlooking the message if the listener desires. However your attention is demanded in this track as Reynolds strips things back to just his vocals and a piano for the most part. As the song climaxes he’s later backed up again by his fellow bandmates to chant the uplifting “Put your weight on my shoulders”. It’s here, much like A Flash Flood of Colour with Constellations, that this album could finish and it would remain Enter Shikari’s best album today.

However The Appeal & The Mindsweep II rolls in to finish the album with the same riff that kicked it off. As it slowly moves into an anthemic final 2 minutes, fans are treated to a nod to previous material. A brass section comes in, similar to Fanfare For The Concious Man, the closing track off 2009’s Common Dreads either side of lyrics taken from the single that started it for Enter Shikari, Sorry You’re Not A Winner.

It’s here The Mindsweep ends but the quality of this album is proven by the fact one listen won’t be enough. This is an album that offers more than just music, it’s laced with strong meaning and a sense of punk ethos that’s missing from today’s mainstream.

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