CD review of The Streets, “Everything Is Borrowed”
November 7, 2008
Steamboat Springs — “Everything Is Borrowed”
“Everything Is Borrowed” is Mike Skinner’s big, gospel-choir praise-fest of the joys of life. It’s a huge break for U.K.-based The Streets, Skinner’s rough-and-tumble hip-hop act previously characterized by his earnest, but depressing and monotone, Birmingham-accented raps.
For people who liked The Streets before, this might be bad news. But for those who weren’t so hot on Skinner’s laid-bare honesty – or just couldn’t quite take it seriously, with the janky beats and the slightly bored lyrical style – “Everything Is Borrowed” goes in a well-arranged, R&B-heavy new direction.
Sound-wise, the shift seems to come from a newfound confidence and contentment for Skinner, as on the title track, where he speak-sings, “Just when they discover the meaning of life, they change it/ Just when I’m loving life, it seems to start raining : Smiling at this blessing, this life is the best.”
In some cases, Skinner’s move away from his own narrative and toward social issues doesn’t work, as on “The Way of the Dodo.” It’s all less-cluttered, with messages and themes that move at a slower pace than anything on “Original Pirate Material” or “The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living.” The lyrical substance is lacking, but “Everything Is Borrowed” is so much easier to listen to than anything else The Streets has done, the lighter rhymes aren’t too much of a sacrifice.