Making the slow, yet ever-persistent march towards my 31st birthday, I’ve never particularly felt too old for all this rock ‘n’ roll stuff.
Sure, I’ve occasionally had to stop and ask somebody what a Kardashian exactly is, and I’m still not entirely sure why I need Whatsapp, but musically, I’ve always considered myself at least as on-the-ball as the next guy.
Then Enter Shikari unleash a new album, and suddenly it occurs to me; there’s guys out there sporting undercut haircuts and wearing Eclipse-brand t-shirts who are still more in touch with today’s culture than I could ever hope to be.
A vibrant collage of smashmouth rock, pulsating dance, and angsty political sentiment, all with a certain pop sensibility underpinning the whole thing, The Mindsweep sounds exactly like the kind of thing my best friend’s 19/20-something year-old daughter would absolutely love. Me? I’m nothing if not completely lost.
And here’s the thing, the problem -if it can be called such a thing- lies entirely with me, not Enter Shikari.
With the optimistic rally cry to the disaffected that is opening track The Appeal & Mindsweep 1, the band quickly establish themselves as more than just politically-inspired purveyors of anarchic, digital hardcore. This is a band as serious about taking an innovative approach to their craft as they are about taking the fight to a system those of us with a few more years under our belts long since surrendered to.
If that’s all there was to it, it would be hard not to feel good about the Hertfordshire quartet’s fourth studio release. As it is, there’s a whole lot more to The Mindsweep, and it’s nigh on impossible for this seemingly ancient writer to know exactly what to feel.
Just when I’m starting to find my way to familiar territory, such as with the monstrous opening riff of recent single The Last Garrison, the Shikari clan pull the proverbial rug from under two stomping feet and turn the whole thing into what is essentially a feel-good pop song, albeit one with far more to offer than your usual Top 40 fodder.
Before that’s really had a chance to sink in, I’m suddenly knee-deep in the frosty waters of Myopia. At least, I thought I was. Turns out the track’s chilly, eerie early moments are just a rouse, a false sense of security that eventually gives way to gut-punching metal riff, followed by another mind-fucking pop refrain.
It’s good, too, and I mean really good. Where other bands go in for the whole genre-mashing thing for seemingly no other reason than because we can, with Enter Shikari, there’s a real sense of purpose behind the pandemonium.
Just what that purpose is, people like me aren’t supposed to know. As good as The Mindsweep may be, this is ultimately music for cool kids.
As you may have already gathered, as a 30-and-a-bit year-old who doesn’t even own Whatsapp, I’m anything but cool.
Recommended tracks: Myopia, The Last Garrison