Review Summary: Dear future historians, Enter Shikari returned to form in 2015.
It’s great to say that I‘ve been a fan of Enter Shikari ever since their first album Take to the Skies which hit the market in 2007. What I’m not glad to say however, is that they’ve gone downhill with each release. 2009’s Common Dreads was still a very good record. It brought a huge change to the sound and even a bigger change to the lyrics, politics became the major subject. Unfortunately, A Flash Flood of Colour from three years ago, was a mess of an album, totally lacking cohesiveness and having several sloppy tracks among a few highlights. However, the three-track EP they released a year after that have shown a lot of promise.
The Mindsweep, the fourth Shikari record was released in the early 2015. If you’re asking whether the trend of albums getting worse continues, then the answer is no. The new offering by the British lads is their most technical and electronic so far, in fact it is not unlike the Rat Race EP (the aforementioned three-track EP). The album’s dominant themes are mostly political and social issues again, but this time it makes sense, unlike the "capitalist is wrong" nonsense from their previous full-length. Those who despised Rou’s pseudo-rapping, might not be satisfied, even though there’s less of it than on the predcessor. Personally, I don’t mind him rapping, one of the album highlights, a pre-released track "Never Let Go of the Microscope" is like that most of the time.
Possibly the most important and the best change between The Mindsweep and A Flash Flood is in consistence. There’s not a single song as awful as „Gandhi, Mate, Gandhi" was. Perhaps the weakest track here is the single Anaesthetist and the thing is, it’s not bad at all. Just not as interesting as most of the other songs on The Mindsweep. The flow of the record is flawless, each track has its place and flows into the next one nicely.
The two best tracks of The Mindsweep, however, are easily the one-two punch of "There’s a Price on Your Head" and "Dear Future Historians" in the album’s second half. While the former is the most mathy and definitely the heaviest song the band has ever written, the latter continues the ballad trend in vein of their older tracks "Adieu" or "Constellations". The personal lyrics accompanied by a soft piano explode into a large sing-a-long, a one which is not short of marvelous string arrangements. Then there are the opener and the closer, which serve as highly energetic (in case of the closer, to the point of madness) bookends.
It all might sound perfect, except there are two quite major flaws. The first and more important is the repetition. In some songs, the choruses are just repeated way more than they should. Take "Torn Apart", which would be among the best tracks of the album (well, it probably is anyway) if it wasn’t for the massive repetition of the chorus. The lead single "The Last Garrison" is another example of this, but on this track it hurts even more as the chorus is nothing spectacular. Generally, the verses are much more interesting than the choruses. The other flaw are the aforementioned lyrics. One might be getting tired of Rou’s politics, especially since it’s been going for several releases now.
But still, The Mindsweep is a great improvement. On one hand, it is (unfortunately) a further departure from the sound of their debut and the only thing that makes us reminisce about it is the quoting of "Sorry, You’re Not a Winner". On the other hand, it just shows how creative, innovative and ambitious the band is. And it’s their ambition that makes me believe that the best Enter Shikari album is still to come.