Mike Skinner's (aka The Streets) quirky new album is a throwback to the electro-rap pyrotechnics and surprising arrangements that made him a favorite in the UK.
When The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, album number three from Mike Skinner (aka the Streets), took off like a lead balloon two years ago, fans who had previously thrilled to his homegrown garage innovations despaired that his best days were behind him. But with this latest quirky release, Skinner bounds back with the kind of electro-rap pyrotechnics and surprising arrangements that established him as the U.K.’s premier poet/prankster/provocateur. Originally heralded for his beat-making prowess, Skinner invites a whole bunch of real-live musicians and singers to join the party this time around, and the results sound surprisingly timeless. The gang’s raucous meditation on the afterlife, “Heaven for the Weather,” sports a big, noisy, sing-along chorus that would sound at home in a stage production of Godspell. Another standout track, the soberly philosophical “On the Edge of a Cliff,” layers the lush sounds of drums, bass, guitar, piano, trumpet, organ, clarinet, harp, violin, and multiple vocalists to help tell its simple story of genetic destiny. Finally freed from whatever creative demons were weighing him down last time around, this new and greatly improved Mike Skinner has at last made another album reflective of his considerable talents.