The Streets – Everything Is Borrowed (2008): Review

streets

Produced by Mike Skinner
Label 679/Vice Records

The philosophical musings of an artist who struggles with fame and fortune are generally accorded critical disdain. The depressive self referential cliché’s that filtered throughout his previous album (2006’s “The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living”) characterized Mike Skinner’s change in social situation. He was no longer the pill fueled lower middle class street urchin of the pubs, clubs, takeaways and bus stops. The ennui that comes from upgraded status led to an embittered album that lacked the homespun charm that had filled his previous two long players. Whilst “Everything Is Borrowed” still languishes in a world grounded by monetary privilege, at least it doesn’t harbour the same alienating grudge and conceit. The latest set of songs painstakingly catalogue Skinner’s profound ruminations on the human spirit, soul, morality and the downfall of mankind. Undoubtedly a heavyweight itinerary, but there’s an honesty and wit to much of Skinner’s lyrical content, and vitally the music matches the more confident songwriter.

MikeSkinner276

The opener, and title track is as humble as it is affecting; a statement charting the simplicity of life’s travels over fresh organic instrumentation and laid back melody. “I came to this world with nothing, And I leave with nothing but love, Everything else is just borrowed” feels like Skinner has finally come to terms with the excesses of stardom, and indeed, his own place in the world. And when he leaves this mortal coil, “Heaven For The Weather” playfully ponders on his north or south trip, all played out over a celebratory Pop/Soul rhythm. “On The Edge Of A Cliff” is a grave suicide talk down, sensitive, philosophical and deeply sincere, and successfully creates vivid poetic images. Musically “The Hardest Way…” moves further away from the urban cut and paste computer sampling in favour of conventional bass rhythms, guitar lines, and occasional strings with generally positive results. The dreamy, ethereal lyrics to the closer (“The Escapist”) qualify the seismic shift from his club roots into a landscape of other worldly imagery; “I feel no fear, I’m not really here, I’m nowhere near” as his imagination wanders. “The Way Of The Dodo” branches into unnecessary, cliché driven words of the destruction of mankind, not helped by the clunky rhythms which feel totally out of step with the rest of this collection. That said, it is one of the few negatives, and although “Everything Is Borrowed” isn’t as powerfully insistent as previous incarnations, there’s more of a reliance on Skinner’s meticulous storytelling, less on the self obsession that tarnished “The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living”.

7/10

Track Listing
1.”Everything Is Borrowed” – 4:04
2.”Heaven for the Weather” – 3:27
3.”I Love You More (Than You Like Me)” – 3:45
4.”The Way of the Dodo” – 3:33
5.”On the Flip of a Coin” – 3:21
6.”On the Edge of a Cliff” – 3:04
7.”Never Give In” – 3:25
8.”The Sherry End” – 2:46
9.”Alleged Legends” – 3:12
10.”The Strongest Person I Know” – 3:03
11.”The Escapist” – 5:16
12.”To Your Face” (iTunes bonus track) – 3:35

Everything Is Borrowed

Heaven For The Weather

The Escapist

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