“You call and call my phone thinking I’m doing nothing better/I’m just waiting for it to stop so I can use it again.”
Most of us, at some point, have been that dick. And in the first twenty seconds of The Streets’ new album ‘None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive’ – their first since 2011’s underrated ‘Computers and Blues’ – Mike Skinner has done that thing that Mike Skinner does so well; pick up on a cruddy little detail of modern life and shove it in a song, his Brummy-by-Barnett drawl labouring over every word.
Things are a bit different for Skinner these days. He’s stopped sharking for a minute to get… his kids ready for school but as he reminds us on ‘You Can’t Afford Me’, the Ms Banks featuring bop about self-worth, “I don’t party hardly but when I do, I party hard”.
You can take the boy out of the club, and all that.
Thankfully for us, the party on this record is very much present. Recognising they might not be quite as in tune with the culture as back in the heady days of yore, (it happens to the best of us, fellas), The Streets have roped in a crew of cool young things, from Dapz on the Map to Jimothy Lacoste – oh, and actual Kevin Parker – to guest on every track. The dirty bass on ‘‘I Wish You Loved You As Much As You Love Him’ – a plea to dump your shitbag boyfriend – is smartly overlaid with gorgeous, soulful vocals by Greentea Peng. Album closer, ‘Take Me As I Am’ – which also featured on Chris Lorenzo’s 2019 album ‘Late Checkout’ – is a massive drum n’ bass tune with a vertigo-inducing drop. And on ‘Eskimo Ice’, Wiley’s famed Eskibeat is employed over lyrics about raving and not really behaving, Skinner proving his knack for detailing a night out is just as sharp in 2020.
On the whole, this is The Streets we love, Skinner’s observational wit picking up on the nuances of relationships and weekends after dark with as much astuteness as he did back in the early noughties (“My phone is always in my hand/ If you think I’m ignoring you, I am”). It’s a tried and tested formula: Skinner, the technological prophet, first predicting the world’s insidious smartphone addiction long before the days of iPhones and 5G. Far from just treading the same old ground though, the well-selected guests on this record add a new dimension, bouncing between genres, Skinner’s unmistakable vocals the cement binding everything together.
The Streets recently announced a series of drive-in gigs around the UK, which are looking like some of the only IRL events music fans have to look forward to in 2020. With this new record adding to their already-incredibly-rowdy cannon, let’s just hope you’re not the designated driver.