The Streets

The Streets

Original Pirate Material

Vice / Atlantic

This is the day in the life of a geezer,” Mike Skinner, a.k.a. The Streets offers two songs in. “Sex, drugs and on the dole.” A concept album of sorts, Original Pirate Material details the everyday misery in suburban UK, a gray life dominated by hanging about, smoking and unemployment. And what initially seems to be just another rough-edged but still smooth-sounding UK garage album proves to be a truly astonishing new and unique voice in music, one that both lyrically and musically shakes up the complacent lull of British rap and club music.

Claustrophobic loops and a chanting vocal approach bring to mind both The Artful Dodger and Roots Manuva, but The Streets offer a whole new fluency of consistency on here. First single out, “Let’s Push Things Forward,” is the definite standout track, one of this year’s top moments on disc, and certainly among those that managed to get on radio as well. Elsewhere the opening “Turn The Page,” “Too Much Brandy,” “Weak Become Heroes,” and “Who Dares Wins” all add new and exciting layers to this already complex work. And while not every song manages to equally capture the brilliance of Skinner to the same overwhelming degree, there’s a beautiful flow and continuity to Original Pirate Material that renders objections to single tracks pretty superfluous. An evocative and brutal work, and one of the defining releases of 2002.

Vice Recordings:

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