Getting Christmas presents early is always nice. Not so many that it’ll ruin December 25, but enough to get you in the festive mood, like a warming nip of Bailey’s before you hit the shops on your last seasonal shopping dash. Two early pressies, we have decided, is totally ideal. So thank you very much Mike Skinner of The Streets, who’s offered up a pair of brand new songs for the season, ‘Burn Bridges’ and ‘Sometimes I Hate My Friends More Than My Enemies’. Even better is the fact that they are resolutely the opposite of Christmas songs. There’s not a whiff of jingle bells between them and on both the mood is doom-y rather than celebratory. Think of how you’ll feel when you wake up, bleary eyed at 2pm on January 1, 2018. This is how Mike Skinner feels right now. Poor Mike Skinner.
Despite throwing the high energy Tonga parties for the past few years, on ‘Burn Bridges’ Skinner has slowed things down to something of a sonic crawl. Letting grime permeate his sound more than ever before, he somberly and slowly delivers his moody message over a minimal beat that wouldn’t seem out of place in the hands of Skepta. A furtive, three minute tale of vengeance that comes over like an alternative theme tune to Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men, it’s thrillingly ominous and perhaps the darkest thing Skinner’s crafted in the 15 years since ‘Original Pirate Material’ was first released.
The vibe of ‘Sometimes I Hate My Friends More Than My Enemies’ is equally glum, but Skinner ramps up the pace to something more familiar to dedicated fans of The Streets. Perhaps the first grime-garage stormer to offer up a shout out to the herb fenugreek, it sees Skinner weaving his distrust and doubt over a skittering beat. “A friend to all is not a friend to anyone,” he states, before redemption is offered via a euphoric chorus. Despite that brief moment of joy though, Mike Skinner doesn’t seem the happiest pup right now – here’s hoping his comeback tour next spring sees him with a little more bounce in his step.