The Streets – Everything is Borrowed

Posted on September 5, 2008

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If you are to believe Mike Skinner, this will be the penultimate album from The Streets. And it’s an odd one all right. After the gritty “people’s poet” stylings of ‘Original Pirate Material’ and the conceptual storytelling of ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’, Skinner suffered an unwarranted backlash for documenting the pitfalls of success on ‘The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living.’ This time Skinner is neither the urban everyman, nor a man upset with his success, this time he is a varied songwriter and a poet.

If you don’t like Skinner’s unique “rap” style, then this isn’t likely to change your mind, and to be honest it does begin to grate slightly after about half the album. Indeed “Everything is Borrowed” appears to be even less focused on lyrical flow than ever before. Instead the album seems a lot more focused on diversifying its musical style. Each song sounds different to the last, from the jazz lounge vibe of ‘I Love You More (Than You like Me)’ to the euphoric string arrangements of the title track, to the 70’s groove of ‘When The Sherry Ends’, the only constant is the steady drumbeat which keeps everything ticking over.

There is also a lot more of the massive choruses that were previously heard on tracks like ‘Dry Your Eyes’, with Skinner’s laconic rapping giving way to soaring, almost gospel vocals. Best examples of this are ‘Everything is Borrowed’ and Heaven For The Weather. The latter is the most fun song on the album and hopefully a future single. The final facet of the album is the songs which could easily be standalone poems, such as the cautionary but uplifting ‘On The Edge Of a Cliff’ and the beautifully understated ‘Strongest Person I Know’, which really serve to give depth to the album.

‘Everything is Borrowed’ isn’t completely free of duff tracks (‘The Way of The Dodo’ and ‘Alleged Legends’ are both atrociously flat attempts at social commentary), but it is one of the most varied works from a hip-hop artist who continually pushes the genre past its boundaries. Let’s hope he doesn’t stop as soon as he says he is.

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