St Alban’s four-piece electronicore band are finally back, with fourth album The Mindsweep. Arriving on the scene in typical Shikari style the new album is (as ever) a force to be reckoned with. Democracy and politics are once again on the agenda for Shikari and no one is safe from Rou Reynold’s lyrical tirade. With the state of the world beginning to change a little, the unrest being felt in the younger generation, Enter Shikari are a beacon of the change that needs to occur. The core message behind the Album can be understood through Rou’s own description of the meaning, suggesting it refers to “those in power withholding or discrediting new ideas”. The album is an explorative journey of thought provoking mayhem. Get ready, because here’s your reminder that Enter Shikari are never going to play by the rules. The Mindsweep is your evidence of political activism in the new era.
Shikari’s catalogue leaves a lot for the band to live up to, after touring almost extensively with third album A Flash Flood Of Colour and starting side-project ‘Shikari Soundsystem’, fans have been heavily anticipating the bands comeback and the sound that they will bring with them. Although the sound on the new album feels slightly less heavy and reckless when in comparison to first album Take to the Skies. The band has obviously matured, and so The Mindsweep comes across as no less powerful than anything you’ve heard before. Perhaps, their old raw sound has gone only to be replaced by a new growing energy. Shikari are growing up.
‘The Last Garrison’ which was the first single of the album, is a note-worthy track with a heavy call-to-arms vibe running throughout and heard in Rou’s opening scream “Can you hear the war cry?”. Rou screams across his growing angst at listeners which is supported by a melodic bridge and a hungry growing electronic sound. ‘The Last Garrison’ sounds like an experiment of genres that continues to be evident throughout the rest of the album, the track is catchy and hopeful at best but nonetheless enjoyable and intriguing.
‘Anaesthetist’, the second single from the album, is an interesting favourite. The tracks intro is filled with electronic effects and experimentation that leaves listeners excitedly anticipating more, and the track doesn’t disappoint. ‘Anaesthetist’ is a lyrical and musical attack on the privatisation of the NHS which provokes some of Rou’s best lyrics like “You will not profit off our health” and “Keep it twisted, take the success, cos all I really want is what’s beating in your chest”. The track ultimately builds to a brilliant attack of electronic sounds and hardcore guitars, Rou’s scream of “Stand the fuck back” leaves fans finally feeling satisfied. Tracks such as this and ‘There’s A Price On Your Head’ revel in the politically-driven anger and dismay that litter the lyrical content of Shikari’s newer works, invoking the sort of chaos that listeners can really get their groove on to.
The album winds up with ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep 2’, another highpoint in the album, which captures the maturing sound of Shikari and throws listeners into an assault of electronic sounds and captivating brass instruments.
The album is innovative and is yet another step in Enter Shikari’s evolution. Yet somewhat disappointingly, there are a few tracks, such as ‘Dear Future Historians…’, which don’t quite live up to the beast that they are, and a lot of the time it can feel as if you’re on the edge of something great but it doesn’t quite pack a punch in the same way that past belters have. That being said, Shikari’s sheer aggression is infectious and it feels hard not to like anything they produce.
Overall, The Mindsweep does capture some of Shikari’s well-loved signature sound, but there is an obvious change in what they are starting to do, which can sometimes feel a little weak if you are mindful of what they have produced in the past. Nonetheless, Shikari have always been a band that are better live than through any other medium, and I’m sure when they do tour the album will still capture the monster sound that they have. The Mindsweep is an album this country needs.