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I've never quite understood the furore surrounding The Streets, the garage band from the UK whose vocalist Mike Skinner has an almost instantly recognisable voice due to the odd Brummy/London mixture have never really tickled my fancy. I find that Skinner's voice tends to be a bit too slow, rather than having a bit of a hip hop groove to it, it sounds like he sings every song at a spoken pace - almost as if he's based his whole career on the spoken section of Blur's "Parklife" song. In the past, the songs that I'm familiar with always had a bit of a cheeky chappy outlook to them, most of them about drugs, drink or chasing girls, on Everything is Borrowed, there's a notable change of style. It seems as if they're appealing to the way people have been effected by the credit crunch with numerous songs dedicated to losing things and generally being a bit on the depresive side. Of course most of these tracks do have some sign of hope in them and I suppose that's the selling point. From rich musicians like The Steets, I find it all a bit difficult to digest though - it doesn't seem as if the words are coming from personal experience and therefore some of the songs sound a bit preachy, just because the lad has a brummy accent it doesn't exactly mean he's lost his job as a street sweeper in Handsworth! I have to say the songs are well put together but the content doesn't really float my boat and it's not an album I'd spend an awful lot of time listening to - it almost has a miserable Lighthouse Family quality to it! 1 Everything Is Borrowed 2 Heaven For The Weather 3 I Love You More (Than You Like Me) 4 Way Of The Dodo 5 On The Flip Of A Coin 6 On The Edge Of A Cliff 7 Never Give In 8 Sherry End 9 Alleged Legends 10 Strongest Person I Know 11 Escapist
The Streets are a garage band fronted by the excellent Mike Skinner. This is their fourth album and is still of a high quality that you would expect however it is a little short in time which is a disappointment. he album starts with what is my favourite track, Everything is Borrowed, this is one of those songs that once you have heard it you will be tapping your feet or humming the hook for the rest of the day as it is a simple little sample that works really well against the lyrics which are all about the problems of debt. My other favourite track is The Escapist which is the final track on the album and again it has a very strong opening and finishes off the album really well. This is a good album that shows a maturity within the writing skills of Skinner, there are a couple of slower sort of love songs, I love you more has a cool soul beat to it while Strongest Person I Know has lyrics you could sing to your mother. Track List 1 Everything Is Borrowed 2 Heaven For The Weather 3 I Love You More (Than You Like Me) 4 Way Of The Dodo 5 On The Flip Of A Coin 6 On The Edge Of A Cliff 7 Never Give In 8 Sherry End 9 Alleged Legends 10 Strongest Person I Know 11 Escapist Way of the Dodo is a good song, warning of environmental damage and has some nice chnges of pace to it while tracks five and six both revert back to a story telling style of lyrics that Skinner is very good at. This is a good album from a great band who are excellent live, Skinner has super stage prescence and knows how to work a crowd. A good fourth album and bring on number five.
When your first three albums have mostly been about drinking, gambling and drug taking while giving a commentary on life in urban Britain what do you do with your fourth album? Well you could do more of the same; after all why change a winning formula? Or alternatively you could go for a bit of a walk in France to get some inspiration and write about important things like the environment and the problems of debt and home repossessions. The Streets are fronted by Mike Skinner and are an urban garage band and one of my all time favourites, I'm not a big fan of rap music especially when you have UK artists putting on American accents to try and sell their music however no one could accuse Skinner of this with his strange cross of an accent, rather than mid Atlantic he has developed a mid England accent, sort of half way between his native Birmingham and London where he resides. This album does tend to lapse into being a bit preachy at times, there is no doubt that Skinner is a skilled wordsmith, able to lend his lyrics in with some hypnotic sounds and samples to create a sort of tapestry on which he paints a picture however with this album I found it a little hard to swallow at times and there are a few too many tracks that do not really work for me that makes it rather disappointing. It is also a rather short album as well barely making it to forty minutes in length which is a bit short, maybe the rumours about his struggling to write enough material had a little more substance than I at first believed. The album does start with a strong track and one to which I'm eternally grateful as I used it to start a talk recently and it managed to grab the attention of 200 teenagers so I had them at the start of my talk on student debt even if I lost some by the end of it, at least the message got through to some of them. This is a story about reflecting on life and those material possessions that do not really matter, it starts with an excellent hook of an organ sample that has a revolving theme to it that varies in volume throughout the track. One of the things I noticed about this album is that overall it is more varied and also makes greater use of backing singers and this track demonstrates this with the use of a number of female backing singers. Most Streets albums have at least a couple of tracks that look to make it into the anthem style, something you can chant along to that has a real "lads" feeling to it and Heaven for the Weather has such a feel to it with a rabble rousing chorus and a happy clappy back drop to it, in fact the gospel feel comes through quite strong in this track and religious themes are something that crop up in a few other tracks as well. Way of the Dodo also attempts to create this chant feel to it but fails as the vocals fail to scan at times, it does have a bit more of a garage feel to it with some of the faster paced vocals that remind me of the first Streets album but this pace is not maintained and the track feels a bit uneven and disjointed. One of the things I like about this album is that there is a greater range to it, not all the tracks work but one that does is I Love you More, it has a smooth lounge music feel to it with a seven chord piano sample and a simple drum beat it conjures the mental image of a smoky (pre smoking ban days) bar with some jazz piano playing in the back ground even if the vocal evoke a different image completely. There are some weak tracks on this album however there are a further two strong tracks that deserve a mention. On the Edge of a Cliff has some fantastic lyrics, a simple beat to the track only serves to emphasise the quality of the lyrics as Skinner recounts a story of a meeting with a stranger, the song has my favourite chorus on the whole album and has an upbeat feel to it that helps to lift the spirits. The Escapist is the final track on the album and the one that made it into the charts along with Everything is Borrowed, this track brings the album to a strong close and tells the story of his walk and final arrival on a beach, for me it conjures the image of my favourite beach in the world which is also in France and there is a positive feel to the track helped by the choir who provide the backing vocals in the chorus and harmony throughout the track. At over five minutes this is by far the longest track on the album as well. The weakness of this album is that there are far too many short, very average songs that sort of blend into each other and as such they are not at all memorable. There is a final third of the album that is far too weak and only the last two songs manage to bring the album back onto track. The penultimate track is one that starts off a bit "twee" with the opening chords but actually turns into a nice slow song, something Skinner has in his repertoire and you usually find one such track on every album. This is no his best effort but an enjoyable track all the same. Overall this is not the strongest album from The Streets, it is a bit like an REM album from the mid nineties (another of my favourite bands) in that it has a couple of great tracks and a few not bad ones but there are a few too many average tracks for my liking and these I have not mentioned in the review other than in passing, check the Dooyoo description for the track list to see which ones I have ignored simply because they have nothing to offer to the album. On Amazon the album sells for £8.98 new or from £6.38 in the new and used although in hind sight I would be tempted to download individually certain tracks if my copy ever got damaged again as I reckon there are only a couple of tracks that will make it onto the Greatest Hits album if they ever decide to cash in. Thanks for reading and rating my review.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Everything Is Borrowed
2 Heaven For The Weather
3 I Love You More (Than You Like Me)
4 Way Of The Dodo
5 On The Flip Of A Coin
6 On The Edge Of A Cliff
7 Never Give In
8 Sherry End
9 Alleged Legends
10 Strongest Person I Know