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WPGM Commentary: Has It Come To This… The Streets Are Back

Has it come to this? Yes it has, Mike Skinner and his gang, The Streets, are back to show us what they’ve been up to for the last seven years with two new singles “Sometimes I Hate My Friends More Than My Enemies” and “Burn Bridges“.

Mike is known for his down-to-earth lyrics about the rollercoaster of emotions that comprise growing up in West Heath, Birmingham. All of Mike’s work has a bed of upbeat electronic beats and flute-like instrumentals that give you time to process and feel the lyrics throughout the song.

Remember what you said to me? 23, 23“, the lyrics in Mike’s latest song describe the trials and tribulations of friendship. While the first song that Mike brought out as The Streets, “Original Pirate Material“, sets the scene for what him and his friends are about. Mike likes to remind listeners frequently that he lives in a sub-society that disagrees with a lot of the typically held ideas of the government and stereotypical society as a whole.

Lock down your aerial“, Mike invites you take a journey with him and the band. It’s between you and him, and the aerial. He sings as if he’s telling you a secret, about all his plans, his thoughts, his irritations… a constant monologue. Many young people living in lower socioeconomic situations can relate to Mike and his wisdom. His challenges and his highs (of varying types).

Mike is an advocate of cannabis legalisation and themes of smoking weed run throughout his work. It can be said that the instrumentals in The Streets music is geared to appeal to a mind altered by CBD and THC. Mike wants to sit with you and relate to you and your life through his music, without judgment. That’s where the appeal of The Streets is born, no one in The Streets has ever changed their behaviour in front of fame, publicity and success.

Mike has retained his down to earth lyrics throughout all of his work. However, Mike’s newest single “Sometimes I Hate My Friends More Than My Enemies” lacks the homely familiar warmth that his earlier work provoked. This single feels alien, distant. There is often a reduction in flow with regard to Mike and his delivery of lyrics. Mike has used the mood of the music to perfection in conveying the emotional messages of the song.

“Burn Bridges” has the same feeling of bleakness and emptiness expressed with gloomy and bassy beats that often drown out the sound of Mike’s melancholy voice as he talks about breaking ties with people. Mike and the band seem to be looking for quite a depressing tone with their latest tunes, which is an unusual way to break back onto the scene of popular music.

If music is a representation of the artist’s life at time of creation, we have to wonder what’s going on with Mike for him still to singing from a rut where life outside his front room and nearest streets doesn’t seem to exist. The Streets. A consistent timeline of life in the here and now, no frills, no exaggeration and perhaps that’s what makes the music feel so bleak. Reality, for some.

The Streets fans are pretty darn excited for their comeback tour which was announced late last year, and all tickets were snapped up within their first 15 minutes of release. What I would describe as ‘performance of reality’, The Streets live performances are like attending, to see a friend talk about the truth of the situation. We concur, 17 years on, we still concur.

Words by Catherine Russell

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