Technically None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive is a mixtape, not an album, but few people other than Mike Skinner are likely to care about the distinction. A proper Streets album, we’re told, is in the works. It’s a shame, then, that Skinner would risk putting people off with a half-baked tape of zeitgeisty collabs.
Appearances from the likes of IDLES, Jimothy Lacoste, Ms Banks and Greentea Peng all look very on-trend on a tracklist, but it doesn’t translate to much beyond that in reality. Ms Banks offers an apt imitation of his languorous flow, and IDLES’ Joe Talbot has a voice fit for sloganeering, but otherwise the result is a stifling mismatch of pastiche and wasted opportunities. And it’s not as fun as it thinks it sounds.
Skinner has always been adept at revealing bigger truths through the most straightforward turns of phrase – drawing drama, tension, and unfiltered emotion from the bland banalities of everyday life. But the thing is, if you don’t nail the first bit then all you’re left with are the bland banalities. Lines like “You know I’d give you my kidney, just don’t ever take my charger” and “Your mum has good genes, but dad’s are ripped” scan like vapid Instagram captions. Rather than passing the baton, Skinner finds himself surpassed by the likes of Hak Baker and Jesse James Solomon whose inner city storytelling feels a lot closer to the acute realities of life they depict.
Glints of brilliance – “She talks about her ex so much even I miss him” on You Can’t Afford Me – only make the experience more infuriating. The problem is, Skinner sounds like he’s trying too hard. When really we loved him for making it look so easy.