When The Streets burst onto the scene in 2002 with ‘Original Pirate Material’, it really was exhilarating zeitgeist-moment stuff. Mike Skinner was a much-needed, refreshing and relevant voice, and his musical portrayal of a loved-up rave-night experience will never be bettered.
On subsequent albums however, his social commentator side became increasingly subservient to the “geezer” persona with the jokey, ‘Fit But You Know It’ and the mawkish, ‘Dry Your Eyes’.
Some eighteen years later he’s still here and sounding remarkably youthful, but in a post-Sleaford Mods world his observations can now sound, on occasion, glib and affected. He’s still capable of being “spit out your beer” funny (“You know I’d give you my kidney, but don’t ever take my charger”), and there are flashes of past genius (‘I Knew Something You Did’), but also some less sharp puns, run of the mill wordplay (“socks and ladders”) and unfinished rhymes that just peter out, like a pissed slurring mate at last orders.
I should add that each track on this album is a collaboration with other emerging or established artists (Idles, Tame Impala, Kazien , Hak Baker…), which is an honourable passing of torches and melding of styles.
Heavy is the head that wears the “voice of the people” crown (just ask Jason Williamson), so maybe Mike Skinner now wants a lock-in, and in the moments of clarity between the glowing booze-buzz, he’ll throw us some pearls of wisdom (“falling down is an accident, staying down is a choice”), and although this isn’t Original Pirate Material, there’s enough of them to keep the faithful satisfied.