After 9 years away from their last album, do The Streets still have it?
Label: Island Records
Mike Skinner and Co originally broke out in 2002 when they released the classic record, Original Pirate Material, an album about drinking, drugs and all the misadventures of a 20 year old. This record was massive for UK rap, changing the game completely, with Skinner’s witty lyricism and catchy choruses. They built a name on the type of music they were making, but now it feels a bit jaded.
After 9 years, The Streets are back with a collaboration mixtape, featuring some huge acts like Tame Impala and IDLES, to name a few.
The album opens with ‘Call my phone thinking I’m doing nothing better’, Skinner’s attempt to conjoin with Kevin Parker, and to an extent it really works. Parker’s vocals are dreamlike and light as he stays true to his Tame Impala roots. Skinner’s lyrics are reminiscent of early music by The Streets, however he keeps up with the times singing about Brexit and saying ‘You know I’d give you my kidney but don’t ever ask for my charger’, this line linking to the very out of place priorities that many people of this day and age have. The contrast between the very local sounding Mike Skinner and the psychedelic king Kevin Parker works well in my opinion.
Next we have the titular track, None of us are getting out of this life alive, featuring Bristol punk band, IDLES. This is a combination that I feel works very well. Joe Talbot screams over this track about hating his country whilst Skinner slurs lines about government power and girls fixating over lip gloss. We are given an insight into British politics here, for me where Talbot and the Bristol lads shine, off the back of tunes like ‘Great’ where they criticise Britain and the government for the mess that is the Brexit situation.
Out of all the tracks I really like how this is mixed, it quite literally combines the usual drum track of Skinner and the gang and the heavy punk sound of IDLES. IDLES have been fans of The Streets for a while now, best shown in their live lounge mash up of their favourite tunes from Skinner. It can be found on YouTube and it is fantastic.
All credit to Mike Skinner, the album is sported with the perfect ending. ‘Take me as I am’ is almost an homage to early music from The Streets. Chris Lorenzo backs up Skinner with the perfect early 2000’s drum and bass beat, as he goes back to more immature lyrics about doing drugs and living the night life, like he would in his 20’s at the time of the first album release. Mike Skinner is now 41, and it very well could be that he has a longing for the life he did have, even though he is now very happily married with children. He just wanted to take one last look at his roots and where he came from.
For me, this is far from the strongest album by The Streets, it isn’t really a strong album. Skinner has failed to hit the mark for me. There are definitely very strong songs here (the ones I have mentioned in depth) but the main issue for me, is that they are surrounded by some forgettable tunes, making Skinner’s latest venture, fairly average.