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Saturday, May 22, 2004

NEW STREETS ALBUM Before I started listening I was afraid I'd be disappointed, something quite likely after such a strong debut. But I can happily say I'm not.
From a first listen-in it sounds pretty cool and a little more accessible. Now I know accessible can also just be a polite word for commercial, but I neither feel that applies here, nor would it matter much to me anyway; there's no reason to lower the quality of your music's sound just to make it more "authentic".
On the whole it's a logical progression in the development of the style from the debut, with some of the edges smoothed out.
One of the changes that is quite obvious is that it has calmed down a bit. Now, this may of course be a first superficial impression but the album certainly stays in the memory as more chilled out than the first one. One review I read somewhere even opined that the Streets had started moving in the direction of UB 40. I don't think so, but the sound is certainly becoming more mature.
On this aspect there is some change however, and that concerns the lyrics. Original Pirate Material was made such a joy by its down-to-earth, smalltown-Britain lyrics. On the current one the lyrics leave you feeling positively wanting. It's not that they're bad. They just fail to tickle the tick as it were. It reminds me of the change between Body Count's first album (title depending on when you got hold of it either "Cop Killer" or "Body Count"), and its follow-up "Born dead". The music had undoubtedly grown up a little (in this case not a good thing), but the lyrics were a simply flat and impressionless, particularly compared to the debut's gratuitously tasteless offering.
Whether or not Mr Skinner will be able, unlike Mr Ice-T's side project, to improve on the lyrics I do not know. I don't think it matters much because his music has advanced well enough to make such a minor quibble irrelevant. Definitely worth a listen and I'm looking forward to getting the album sometime soon.

Update: As to the lyrics question my brother pointed out to me rigthfully that the lyrics on first albums are the resultant of a life-long development, whereas those on follow ups are necessarily only the result of two years' worth of experience and work.

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