Review Summary: No sssongs starting with the same 3 letters? Must be a sign of maturity.
It’s a rare thing to really
feel as though you’ve grown up with a band. Back in 2007 when Take to the Skies
exploded in popularity, this fresh faced fellow along with 11 others went to see them play live. There was barely any disparity between the band’s youth and our own, and when they dropped instruments halfway through their set to rave atop the huge speakers, their enthusiasm matched that of the similarly aged crowd. It was a highly interactive experience, and though the mid-set raves are now long gone their shows still carry the energy which keeps Enter Shikari’s predominantly young fans returning. What made them, and what continues to make them so endearing to teens is simple; catharsis. With hormones raging and schoolwork crushing them, the opportunity for them to scream their lungs out and dance until they drop simultaneously is irresistible. They make instantly gratifying music perfectly suited to a demographic who craves it, but The Mindsweep
proves that they’re still alongside me after all these years.
sees Enter Shikari polish the sound they’ve been trying to perfect since their very first album, and they mature in the process. Rou Reynolds’ screams are still frenzied when appropriate, but they’re less overwhelming and haphazard. Where his yells used to stand apart on their earlier releases, they now blend into the layers of the song more efficiently, and they’re aided by an increase in airy backing vocals which often overlap. He flits smoothly between spoken, sung and harsh vocals throughout, and his improvement has had a huge impact on the cohesiveness of the record.
While the band’s lyrics have never been their selling point, they’ve always had the knack of mixing political and social messages with their British whimsy. Just as Common Dreads had calls for unity on the title track juxtaposed with a mock circus themed banquet on “The Jester,” The Mindsweep
continues the trend. “The Appeal & The Mindsweep I” carries a familiar message to that found on previous albums, as it champions the passion and fight possessed by humankind. Admittedly, talk of acid and dinner plates might not get you standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow man in the face of adversity, but the message is a positive one, and nobody should ever be castigated for attempting to inflict a positive change on the world, however small. On the other hand, the winsome bonus track “Slipshod” crams all of their japes into one small, angry package. It’s a song which simply shouldn’t work, but cries of “oh dear” and “lordy lordy” from amidst the chaos make it difficult not to smile. The song’s 2 minute run time means that it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and its inclusion seems to have appeased their desire to include similar sections on the album's main body of songs.
Importantly, outside influences are more apparent than ever, and the System of a Down style “There’s a Price on Your Head” is the most obvious, as well as the best. The guitars and drums open up with spastic volleys of noise as Reynolds channels his inner Serj Tankian while arguing with himself about which social class he belongs to. It’s a surprising opening, but it’s nowhere near as surprising as the Eastern inspired violins which see the song out. “There’s a Price on Your Head” is the first time in their career that they’ve made an influence so apparent, and it’s a brave move which is likely to result in a fan favourite.
Whilst it’s likely that Enter Shikari will always make music which satisfies the needs of disgruntled teenagers, they are
slowly evolving into something more. The vocals are improved, the influences are coming to the fore, and the band thankfully hasn’t abandoned their humorous side, though it is slightly restrained. It’s refreshing to see a band you’ve grown up with evolve rather than stagnate, and as with everything with age, moderation is the key. Enter Shikari aren’t the fresh faced fellows they once were either and their music now reflects that, but they still know how to have a damn good time.