It may, unfortunately, be time to unlock your aerial
Tom Dibb
13:10 10th July 2020

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There is perhaps no overstating the impact Mike Skinner, frontman and mastermind of The Streets, has had upon the zeitgeist of British music. Skinner was one of the pioneers of garage and grime music, and without his contributions the scene would not be as mainstream as it is today. However, with his latest offering, None of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive, Skinner comes across as anything but revolutionary. Instead, seeming to struggle with a scene which has left him in the dust.

Opening the mixtape is, ‘Call My Phone Thinking I’m Doing Nothing Better’. It sets things off to an auspicious start. With flashes of The Streets' quintessentially British charm, it showcases Skinner’s story-telling ability wonderfully. However, there is an undeniable clash between the modern, bass-centric beats and Skinner’s off-kilter delivery. This is continued within the next track, the titular, ‘None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive’. Simply put, Skinner’s vocal takes don’t mesh in a cohesive manner with the beat of the track. With his casual and relaxed delivery’s seeming at odds with the aggressive beat and subject matter. Here, it’s guest star Joe Talbot, frontman of punk outfit IDLES who shines through. With his angry stylings fitting wonderfully and adding a sinister edge to proceedings.

As the mixtape continues the stark and distracting contrast between Skinner’s melody and vocals become more apparent, with each guest seeming more at home on the album than The Streets frontman himself. With Dapz On The Map and Ms Banks being standouts, adding a palpable energy and a hunger on each of their respective tracks. This comes to a head with ‘I Know Something You Did’. With the beats sounding highly Americanised, it could have come straight off of a Drake album and is at odds with the very essence of The Street as Skinner’s midlands twang sounds all at sea in contrast with the tracks synth tones. It’s the sound of a man from the MySpace generation trying to create Soundcloud rap.

This is not to say the album doesn’t have flashes of brilliance on it. The one-two punches of, ‘Falling Down’ and, ‘Conspiracy Theory Freestyle’ being prime examples of this. With the former making wonderful reference to Skinner’s never say die musical ideology, with the wonderful line of, “Three Rizla sheets to the wind” being the best example of this uplifting spirit.

Closing out the album is single, ‘Take Me As I Am’, which again highlights the albums downfalls. It spends the majority of the track focusing on the beats and house-drops of Tom Zanetti rather than Skinner’s lyricism or anything resembling a Streets song. It instead sounds like a bland summer house track.

None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive is undeniably a muddled and confused beast. For every flash of Streets kitchen-sink brilliance is an off-kilter track that is only rescued by the admittedly great guests. Skinner seems to have turned his back on his songs, “Not being club tracks” as declared on his debut Original Pirate Material and it may, unfortunately, be time to unlock your aerial.

None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive is out now via Island. 

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