The Streets | Everything Is Borrowed (Vice)

cd_streets.jpgEverything Is Borrowed is a breezy, lighthearted album without a single track that takes itself too seriously.







I first heard The Streets while studying abroad in England. Needless to say, "melodic" was not the first term that came to mind when hearing the uniquely raw voice of lead singer Mike Skinner. As I had been conditioned by the mainstream, it took a while for me to see the artistic individualism and common approach in Skinner’s voice. As it was the spring of 2003, the track circulating the radio at that time was "Irony of it All" from the more cynical and boisterous first album, Original Pirate Material. A balls-out look at life, the record was one of his more cynical ones but also one of his best.

I’m going to be downright honest about this as Skinner would have it no other way, I’m sure. Everything Is Borrowed is a breezy, lighthearted album without a single track that takes itself too seriously. The title track will blow anybody familiar with Skinner away with the amount of optimism spewing out of his mouth. You wonder if he’s seriously turned over a new leaf or just taking the piss. "Never Give In" and "Sherry End" are reminiscent of ’70s soulful disco. I know. Soulful disco and The Streets? That’s reason enough to listen to this album alone. "I Love You More (Than You Like Me)" has got to be the earworm track of the whole CD. If any song on this album is going to get stuck in your head, it’s going to be this one. With a bluesy sound and classic big band-type beat that’s neither fast nor slow, it’s just the right tempo to have you humming the entire day.

"The Escapist," the last track on the album, is one of those slow and melancholic songs but in actuality is optimistic and infectious. Easily one of the best songs on the album, the optimistic lyrics versus the bleak, hazy music leaves you with a feeling of bitter sweetness. Just as peaceful, the video shows Skinner starting in his native England and walking to what appears to be the beaches of southern France. Once there, he stops and stares across the ocean for a few brief minutes, then turns around and starts back. As simplistic as it is, it works. The video conveys the same sort of serenity as the track, and delivers the sort of reaction that requires at least a grin.

Skinner’s Everything Is Borrowed is more noticeably optimistic compared to his previous albums. The tracks are more open-ended and have a message of hope in them. This time around, the lyrics appear to be a bit more vague, causing the listener to decipher for his/herself, and work to get the bigger message out of the track. While it’s not as entertaining as Original Pirate Material, it is still a must hear. B+ | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: M.I.A., Dizzee Rascal, Cornershop

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