The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free

The warning signs were there with "Fit but you know it", a limp guitar riff stolen from Parklife could not disguise the questions arising of why exactly do we like Mike Skinner? Sure there's something voyeuristic about watching this oik talk about chips, pulling birds and beers, but surely these are the sort of 18-30 tw*ts in Ibiza we'd give our last penny to be nuked out. Unlike Ali G and Goldie Lookin Chain, Mike Skinner is Mike Skinner, not a character or alter ego and there really lies the problem as to why his live shows have attracted audiences lairyier than Oasis.

"A Grand Don't Come For Free" is being dubbed as a concept album, an album about a holiday romance turned sour, and in that sense it flow alot more than "Original Pirate Material" which went off scatter gun like in a plethora of different directions. "It Was Supposed To Be So Easy" features the sort of brass samples as utilized by the Beastie Boys, but then they're infused with Skinners simplistic Playstation beats and lazy rhymes about "having achieved absolutely nowt" and the introduction as to how he loses his grand by the TV. It's a weak start but "Could Well Be In" is a massive improvement with a laid back looped piano riff and sweet vocals from Will Nichols. Lyrically, it's skinner at his best with the minutia of life explored in every facet. "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way" tells the tale of what most guys get into when a relationship first starts. The long term mates get thrown out of the window, but the bliss of just sitting at home with the missus watching Eastenders and the Bill is too much of a pulling factors. The same old same old of your mates just isn't the same. "Such A Tw*t" is a tale of a lads summer holiday, typical Skinner landscapes, and the problem is it's all a little bit too obvious - a bit too Club Reps as told by Simon Artimitage after a couple of light ales. The same applies to"What Is He Thinking?", but all is saved by "Dry Your Eyes", the albums penultimate track. A genius moment with lush acoustic guitar, a vocal hook in the chorus which remind us of Wyclef Jean's "Gone To November" and lyrics which genuinely sums up heartbreak more than anything Coldplay, Travis and the acoustic Jeff Buckley wannabe's could ever hope to do.

"A Grand Don't Come For Free" is a mixed bag of an album. Musically less inventive and eclectic than "Original Pirate Material", the simplistic beats perhaps grating a little, but at the same time classic cuts such as ""Dry Your Eyes", "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way", "Empty Cans" and "Could Well Be In". This is an album which will perhaps grow with time, but it's far from an essential album

Alex McCann

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