Hardest Way to Make A Living - The Streets
Substitute weed for cocaine and a can of Stellar for a bottle of champers and your half way to understanding ‘The Hardest Way to Make a Living.’ The third album like the other two is a confident interpretation of life according to The Streets in all its rough bullishness and moments of sentimentality. Like another chapter to Mike Skinner’s autobiography, this album provides us with an insight into the transition from a grimy London youth culture to the glitz and excess of pop stardom. Our urban poet seems to of shed the dark atmosphere, edgy lyrics and simple melodies in return for more jovial subjects and complex U.S style RnB arrangements that is emblematic of Skinner’s new transatlantic sugar-coated lifestyle.
There are some fairly strong tracks such as ‘Pranging out,’ a catchy, soulful tune embedded with whirling synthesisers that describes the haze, paranoia and over inflated ego’s that accompany any star spangled lifestyle. Similarly ‘Momento Mori,’ a humorous spin on death, has an infectious bass line that will guarantee discreet foot tapping. ‘All goes out the window,’ is a song that features Mike Skinner’s right hand man Marlon playing a bigger part, giving it a soothing RnB base whilst Skinner reverts to digging deeper into his soul for ‘Never went to church,’ a vivid, heart wrenching account of religion and memories of his father.
The rest of the tracks on the album are fairly mediocre. Lyrically, Skinner is not bad but there is a lack of interesting, poetic lines and strong metaphors that brought the past two albums to life. The album has enough filler to cement a brick wall. Songs such as ‘When you wasn‘t famous,’ ‘Can’t con an honest Jon,’ ‘war of the sexes,’ and ‘two nations,’ are lyrically boring and slightly meaningless, bearing a tiresome resemblance to The Streets’ earlier and better tracks like ‘The Irony of it all,’ and ‘you’re fit but you know it.’
Overall this album falls short of the high standards set by the previous two. It appears to linger in a state of confusion. It attempts to retain a gritty edge but the new found glossy lifestyle seems to leave it in a murky mess of self-parody. Maybe this is what they want to portray? I am just not convinced, Skinner’s past work which reflects his unique ability in painting humble, urban vignettes and adolescent capers with the utmost clarity and sincerity is an unmatched skill. As soon as he stepped onto the music scene he tapped into a burgeoning booze and drug generation, it is what he does best and it suits his style. The Self-styled duo who are now filthy rich, cruising in Bentleys and hob-knobbing with fellow celebrities seem to be struggling for any interesting material or maybe it’s down to their fattened arrogance and previous success that has left them apathetic.
Reviewed by George for UKEvents.net
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