The Streets, ‘Computers And Blues’ – First Listen

Here it is then – Mike Skinner’s supposed last hurrah under the moniker The Streets. We’ve had five albums in almost a decade from the bard of Brum, and whatever you think about his music now, it’s undeniable how influential he’s become since ‘pushing things forward’ way back when.

He’s all but confirmed this as the final Streets album – and still hasn’t given many clues as to what he’ll do next. Admittedly, he never truly made it as the British Eminem, and Dizzee Rascal has long since stolen his mainstream rapper du jour crown, yet to a certain ilk of society Skinner’ll forever be held in high regard.


So without further ado, let’s put on our copy of ‘Computers And Blues’ and have a little dance (sorry, listen) shall we?

Outside Inside
Backwards vocals and bleepy computer samples swirl around before Skinner kicks into action, ordering the world to “wake up and smell the coffee”. It morphs into a slow-paced, sax-heavy funk shuffle, lyrically seeming to centre around the perils of smoking way too much dope and not actually doing anything productive.

Going Through Hell
’99 Problems’-style guitars and a lengthy, proper chorus sung by The Music’s Rob Harvey. This is Skinner embracing his inner AC/DC-isms, and an introduction to the guitar-heavy side of the record (guitars alongside drum machines, keys and dub bass, we should add).

Roof Of Your Car
Mike gets all woozy, singing about romance. And massive joints. And weird scientific stuff. And good, and band, and evil. All while sweet sounding arpeggios descend around him.

Puzzled By People
Lyrically harking back to the Skinner of old, ‘Puzzled By People’ is one of those wise, wide-boy rants that helped make him stand out all those years ago. “We never had a crossed word/My words got lost and you never heard/I’m too down/You’re one across the room,” he chirps.

Without A Blink
A blatant steal from Eric Prydz’ ‘Call On Me’ (itself sampled from Steve Winwood’s ‘Valerie’) – until it flips 180 and goes into a fey funk riposte – this could almost be Skinner’s lyrical interpretation of Andrew WK’s ‘Party Hard’. Let’s face it, such enthusiasm for going out on the town and getting on it is quite admirable after all these years.


Blip On A Screen
“A blip on a screen/You don’t know me/I think about you/And what you’ll grow to be”. And here you have it – Mike Skinner’s first paean to an unborn child.

Those That Don’t Know
Rhyme after rhyme of weed-fuelled madness and a homage to London town to boot. Probably the fastest song on the album, which generally veers between medium paced and ever so slightly faster. Mike’s riffing on the stars, space, time, partying, girls, getting older and smoking dope here – evidently the central themes of ‘Computers & Blues’.

Rob Harvey’s back, sounding more like Noddy Holder than anyone else ever in the history of the world (that includes you, Noddy), backing up Skinner while he bigs up the festival massive. “80,000 people in a state of rowdy fever/There will never be a sequel to this evening”, his story it starts. You get the impression it has been designed purely to cater for the Glasto/Reading/Beni masses.

We Can Never Be Friends
Alongside ‘Dry Your Eyes’, probably the most obvious ballad Mike’s ever penned, and this tackles a similar subject matter too. Peppered with Gallagher-esque guitar breaks slotted in neatly between the vocals.

Sounding like the older, grimmer brother of ‘Too Much Brandy’, Mike gets his lyric on with an alphabet-exercise in rhyme here (literally – he ends each line with a letter). So we get: “A/You can’t say what you B/I don’t see what you C/I hear a melo-D”… you get the picture.

Another slowie that portrays a series of character-based revelations played out across a Facebook page. The sly storytelling wit could have slotted quite happily in the grand scheme Mike cooked up on ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’.

Trying To Kill M.E.
Rolling, repetitive piano loops provide backing to an older and wiser Skinner here, intent on rallying against everything from drugs to music to, well, pretty much everything else that makes him tick in 2010. The final 30 seconds morph into a neat little new song, where he spits stuff like “the oldest cell in my body is only 10 years old”. Now that can’t actually be true, can it?!

Trust Me
This one you’ll know, as it was one of the tracks leaked on Twitter in 2009. It’s really great too – Skinner sounds just as young, energised and downright vital as he did on ‘Original Pirate Material’.

Lock The Locks
Fades in from the end of ‘Trust Me’, and reveals itself to be something of a teary, sorrowful goodbye note. The last ever Streets song? Quite possibly. Of course, the whole thing is done in character, with Mike re-imagining himself leaving some dull office job, but it’s totally designed to have you reading between the grooves. Juicy lines like “I never stood up for what I wanted to do” must surely been included to be pored over.

Skinner ends the record – the final Streets record – by rapping: “I’m packing up my desk/Put it into boxes/Knock out the lights/Lock the locks and leave.” And that’s it. Bye bye.

The Streets, ‘Computers And Blues’ is released on February 7

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