Review Summary: Enter Shikari spend more time platting piss, than focusing on solid ideas.
We all have one; that
band which inexplicably irritates you beyond rational comprehension. It can be caused by the singer, the music - or sometimes both; every note, beat, lyric, it just sends you into a state of stupified disgust and bewilderment. Of course, music is extremely subjective, and my contempt for a band could mean the world to others. Which leaves you in a situation where you'll come across a successful band that you dislike, but others love. Like being given an in-joke you weren't invited to understand. One such band to send me into this state of frenzy is Enter Shikari. For the life of me I can never put my finger on how this band got an inch of exposure; their style of music is best described as a collection of different shapes franticly trying to fit together with each other: the synthesisers are out of place from the post-hardcore dominated sound; the singer's voice is gobsmackingly awful and clashes with the music as much as the electronics do, as he ham-fistedly wails out his parts; while compositions jolt and stutter from verse to chorus more often than not. If I was captured for interrogation, just put something on from these guys and I'll tell you everything you wanted to know.
But, I decided to put on their last effort, The Mindsweep
, to test my emotions against objectivity. The results delivered on my primal emotions, and was a generally terrifying exercise, but the band did occasionally surprise me from time-to-time. The albums opening track, "The Appeal & The Mindsweep I", has a broad, epic soundscape, with swooping guitar passages that build up to a fairly satisfying conclusion. While Roughton's vocals occasionally hit the right marks at some points on the album: the screams and melodies for the verse in "The Last Garrison" bring a decent level of melancholy and add to the aggressive sound behind it; despite the terrible rap influenced verses of "Anaesthetist" the chorus is catchy as hell; while I almost entirely enjoyed the Interpol-esque "Never Let Go of the Microscope", the song's overall presence was a real surprise.
I will give the band credit for some of their pretty diverse ideas, but a lot of the songs and ideas on here just aren't fleshed out enough; tonally it's all over the place, and never clear which direction the band wanted to go with their ideas. I can pick parts of songs that have some nice ideas, but it always ends the same way: inconsistent and blotchy, breaking immersion everytime. "Myopia" starts off with Roughton doing a Thom Yorke impression, but by the end of it it sounds like a generic metalcore number with backing chants; you just never know if you're coming or going, and every song on here falls for it in varying degrees. The biggest drawback from me, (and it will always be the problem for this band in my opinion) is the vocals. There are little moments where melodically they sound a little Interpol'y or Radiohead-esque, but more often than not the band just sound like a bunch of pissed-up hooligans, slurring down the microphone at a karaoke. Roughton can hold a note, sure, but they never up the game past banal; his rapping throughout "Anaesthetist" and "Never Let Go of the Microscope" is gimmicky and adds nothing to the songs (other than an eyeroll), while the backing-vocals do as much damage to the album, with songs like "The One True Colour" which sound like the terribly cheesy and airy vocal melodies of the debut I Killed The Prom Queen record. But you also come to tracks like "There's a Price On Your Head", where the singing has changed quite drastically, and they do a half-baked impression of SOAD with a Dillinger Escape Plan riffing; this is equally negative as they don't pass it off as their own, and it comes across as just a bad imitation.
Even though I haven't been won over, The Mindsweep
surprised me more than I thought it would. An incoherent mess, but one with some little golden nuggets nestled away that show up from time-to-time. Despite a lot of the electronics and the vocals never sitting right with me, the music can sometimes be enjoyable. It's just a shame that the likes of "Never Let Go of the Microscope" don't focus enough on the dominant ideas they have, rather than shoehorning random ideas into songs.
Edition: C̶D̶, MP3, V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶
Special Edition: N/A