Friday, September 12, 2008

The Streets - Everything Is Borrowed

This just in! Mike Skinner is back! The Streets penultimate album is unlike most anything he's ever produced. For those of you unaware, or confused by the previous statements, let me rewind a bit. I just listened to Everything Is Borrowed by The Streets which is being released in the U.K. on September 15. The Streets is the alias of British MC Mike Skinner. With three previous albums in the books, this fourth one is a new chapter in a five record arc for the artist. Until recently, I was blissfully unaware that Skinner intended to hang up the mic after the fifth album. More details can be found in this BBC News article. Basically, Skinner goes on to say he signed a five record deal, and always thought that each album would be an installment in a five-disc box set, per se. Either way, his last album The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living was generally considered to be a misstep. It was his shortest effort at ~37 minutes, and even Skinner remarked it was a "guilt-ridden indulgence." Thankfully, The Streets are back with a new album with a totally different vibe, lyrical content, and overall feel that is refreshingly different.

Everything Is Borrowed is just short of 39 minutes with 11 tracks ranging from 2:46 to 5:16 in length. Immediately, you know something is different just from the album artwork. The past two albums have featured Skinner standing in a bus shelter and leaning against a car. This is the first album since his debut that has gone without him on the cover. As I was saying, the album has a different feel. The actual beats/production are quite upbeat which stand in contrast to much of the lyrical content that is rather melancholy, somber, and reflective. For example, in "On The Edge Of A Cliff" Skinner rhymes about standing ready to jump over the edge, until an old man tells an anecdote about how he was once there himself and someone said to him, "For billions of years since the outset of time / Every singles on of your ancestors survived / Every single person on your mom and dad's side / successfully looked after and passed onto you life / What are the chances of that, like?" Needless to say it's a pretty weighty issue (thoughts of suicide) to be tackling, which is juxtaposed with horns and a backing chorus. The effect is bringing a sense of hope and positive reflection to a scary situation. Another favorite lyric is the chorus for "Heaven For The Weather" which is: "I want to go to Heaven for the weather / but Hell for the company. / I want to go to Heaven for the weather / but Hell seems like fun to me." All the lyrics on the new album are devoid of a topic Skinner usually loves to play with: pop culture/technology. Basically, Skinner forced himself to stop talking about cell phones and texting. After a couple spins of the album it's pretty solid. There are only a couple tracks that I'm kinda indifferent about. But the overall jazzy feeling is interesting with guitars, horns, chorus, and funky bass lines against the produced drums and beats. "The Strongest Person I Know" has the same feeling as the previous hit "Dry Your Eyes" but without the killer chorus. The song I've chosen isn't the strongest track, but it's one that hasn't been floating around for a while either. The first single is going to be "Everything Is Borrowed," and "The Escapist" (my fav track) was available online a while ago. Enjoy.

"The Way Of The Dodo"

1 comment:

Nil Krypto said...

I've tried, Zimman, oh how I've tried - actually I've only heard parts of maybe 3 diff. Streets tracks but, man...I just hate this stuff. Hook me up with he three best records and I'll give it one last shot...