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Everything Is Borrowed

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Album Review

By the end of the last Streets album, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, listeners and even most fans were ready for Mike Skinner to stop complaining about the perils of celebrity. Skinner sounded crass and cynical, utterly disgusted with his life and very bitter about what it had become. (In so doing, it proved that he's one of the most honest songwriters to ever step up to a microphone.) Everything Is Borrowed is a neat about-face, a record that couldn't be more different from its predecessor. Sincere, considered, and poignant, Everything Is Borrowed finds Skinner remaining one of the foremost lyricists in pop music, and so much the better when the focus of his sharp writing is the struggle of weighty concepts instead of flimsy celebrity. Skinner's characters in these parables are struggling, no doubt, but in the process they're also coming upon profound insights about life, death, and love, ranging from the slightly pithy ecology dance piece "The Way of the Dodo" all the way up to the struggle between good and evil in each person ("Heaven for the Weather," which reveals its odd title and its lyrical genius in the line "I want to go to heaven for the weather/But hell for the company"). The instrumentation, as well, is far more different than any previous Streets record. Although the drums don't always sound live, most of the time they are, courtesy of drummer Johnny "Drum Machine" Jenkins. Electric guitar and bass occupy a lot of space, along with the occasional strings and even brass. Nevertheless, since the instruments are wielded the same way that the synths were in the past, there's no radical change in format. Skinner still busies himself speaking most of the verses (often tripping over himself) and singing every chorus (usually off-key), as though he's stumbling upon every genius line, daft as they sometimes sound. He's just as stingy with his productions as he has been ever since the second Streets album, so those who ache for the crystalline production perfection of Original Pirate Material won't find much here to cling to. But singing (or speaking) words of wisdom like this certainly makes up for his gradual move away from the super-producer status he's enjoyed in the past. Suddenly optimistic, or at least philosophical, about life, Skinner catches lightning in the bottle for the third time, and makes it clear that once we're able to look back at the Streets discography — Skinner has promised that this is the fourth of five — it will be easy to see The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living much more simply, troubled and frustrating though it was, as a way to exorcise some of his darker demons, and make the journey to the light more invigorating.

Customer Reviews

The $treets finest hour.. in my humble opinion..

I love the way peepz keep sayin how messy the 3rd album was.. I disagree.. Like anything in life music is subjective.. VERY subjective.. one mans rags are another mans riches.. If I'd just lost my father in the middle of writing an album.. it wouldn't be messy.. there would be NO album.. period. If you are a true $treets fan.. ANYTHING they put out is a must have. Not to own this album is to seriously miss out. Word on the $treets is.. buy it. NOW! Peace. T. Out. pto/...

Poet

Just shows how much of a poet Mike Skinner is, to produce a forth album as good as this is awesome, truely a must buy!

I was only dissapointed when it came to an end

As refreshing as original pirate material and just as good

Biography

Born: 27 November 1978 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Mike Skinner's recordings as the Streets marked the first attempt to add a degree of social commentary to Britain's party-hearty garage/2-step (and later grime) movement. Skinner, a Birmingham native who later ventured to the capital, was an outsider in the garage scene, though his initial recordings appeared on Locked On, the premiere source for speed garage and, later, 2-step from 1998 to the end of the millennium. He spent time growing up in North London as well as Birmingham, and listened first...
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Everything Is Borrowed, The Streets
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