Photo by Tom Roelofs

Photo by Tom Roelofs




2019 – Course of Action LP (PNKSLM067) – Pre-order

2017 – Nerve Endings LP/CD (PNKSLM021) – Listen/buy






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Two years on from making their PNKSLM debut with the incendiary Nerve Endings, Mind Rays return sharper, louder and more refined with Course of Action. After establishing themselves as one of mainland Europe’s most consistently thrilling live acts since their formation in 2013, the Ghent quartet - comprising vocalist Sis Sevens, guitarist Christophe Adriaensens, bassist Jean-Michel Lauweres and drummer Mikel Gaston-Echeverria - decamped to Hightime Studio in Herk-de-Stad to cut ten new tracks in four-and-a-half days with Pieter-Paul Devos of Raketkanon and Kapitan Korsakov. The result is a lean, high tempo punk rock affair that’s imbued with a different kind of energy than Nerve Endings; it’s polished without being pristine, and carries with it a new kind of swagger that speaks to the four-piece’s sky-high confidence.

Mind Rays were born out of markedly different musical backgrounds; Gaston-Echeverria, for example, previously played post rock, whilst Adriaensens had never played electric guitar in any capacity before the group’s first jam. After the raw spark of their self-titled EP and the laying out of their punk rock blueprint that Nerve Endings represented, though, Course of Action is the sound of a band that has gelled spectacularly on the road beginning to kick things up a few gears. ‘Pristine Condition’ is an exercise in freewheeling riffery, whilst ‘Head Back’s urgent verses explode into a wild chorus in a manner reminiscent of post punk revivalists like Preoccupations or Iceage. For the most part, though, this is a record entirely in the band’s own psych-tinged image. “There are fewer outside influences on us on this album,” explains Adriaensens. “In the beginning, we needed some points of reference, whereas this time, we were asking how we wanted to sound as ourselves - we wanted to make our own work more unique. There’s a different chemistry to the songs, because all we wanted to do was work on improving the Mind Rays sound.”

Sevens concurs - unsurprisingly, as this record sees him really find his voice as a frontman, both literally and figuratively. “For me, there’s a new dynamic to the songs,” he says. “Some parts of the album are harder than the others, and the vocals now have a much more prominent place in the mix. In the past, we tried to muffle them with the noise we were making. Now, every instrument has its own right to exist within the mix.” Sevens lyrics’ are more personal than ever, meanwhile, while the album takes on a greater thematic cohesion than Nerve Endings. “That felt more like a random collection of songs; with this one, there’s a certain feeling that goes through the entire record. I was thinking about, “what’s your course of action in life?” What do you want to reap from it, and how do those thoughts manifest themselves? It’s definitely more thought out than last time.”

That’s true musically, as well, with Devos’ production doing a terrific job of harnessing the band’s energy without ever shackling it. He and the band headed for the site of an old apple tree farm in Westerlo in part to work with Hightime’s owner, Thomas Valkiers of Double Veterans, who engineered Course of Action. The band’s kinship with Devos and Valkiers, both also purveyors of this kind of breakneck rock and roll, was key to them being able to bring out the best in themselves. "“He had a lot of good ideas and a lot of guitars,” laughs Adriaensens. “We knew we were looking for somebody who could expand our spectrum of sounds. We wanted to get the album down quickly, because - even if it sounds like a cliche - we wanted to sound and feel like we do live.”

The band have succeeded in that aim in stunning style with Course of Action, an album on which - for all its vibrancy and vitality - never loses sight of Mind Rays’ punk ethos. “Take my drumming, for example,” says Gaston-Echeverria. “The most important part, for me, was that it was fast and loud. I could have played to a click track and have it be totally perfect, but that’s not what we wanted - we wanted it to be organic. The first few takes are the most important - that’s when you find the raw energy you’re looking for.”