Streets : Dry Your Eyes

Geezer shows sensitive side, nation sobs...

A friend of NME's went to see [/a] recently and was a bit taken aback.

It wasn't that the 2,000 people packed into Manchester Apollo were bouncing for Britain, that's expected. But, apparently, they were also singing every word back at Mike Skinner like their lives depended on

it. He had no idea that Mike Skinner and, more specifically, Mike Skinner's words mattered so much to people.

You can argue that [a]Morrissey is the best lyricist ever. Others marvel at Eminem's verbal dexterity. Some even find wisdom in Kurt Cobain's sixth-form poetry. But what the British music-buying public have always loved, whether it's Paul Weller, Suggs from Madness or even Damon Albarn,

is one of their own who can encapsulate the British suburban experience in a killer three-minute pop song. Basically, Britain wants someone who likes a pint, shops

in Asda, goes to the match, reads the Daily Mirror and shares their frustrations - someone unpretentious, basically. Someone who talks their language, yet is sensitive enough to use that language to chart life's upheavals.

If 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' nixed any lingering doubts about [/a] and established Skinner as

a serious rival to Andrew Motion (Mike Skinner: poet laureate of the run-down precinct) then 'Dry Your Eyes' rams the point home. It's a hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck ballad for jilted lovers; rarely has Skinner sounded so vulnerable, poignant and, well, normal. Better still, the tune itself

- a beat, some strings, acoustic guitar, like[a]Fugees unplugged and huddled in a bus shelter near Birmingham - is a model of simplicity and restraint, yet exceptionally

brave too. Blokes just don't get this emotional outside Brixton kebab shops if they value their teeth, so Skinner's open-hearted lament peels another layer of 'front' from

the wide-boy 'tood and stands as a rare testament to the fact that, hey, chavs are people too.

Tony Naylor

Get 'Dry Your Eyes' at the NME Shop


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