The Streets

Any writer who dares suggest that Mike Skinner, the Brit behind The Streets, is something less than a primitive genius would undoubtedly get the frigid-shoulder treatment at a critics' roundtable. Reviewers on both sides of the pond worked themselves into a lather over Original Pirate Material, Skinner's 2002 full-length debut, and thus far, most of the Grand notices have been, well, grand. Damned if I know why. Sure, the new CD is distinctive, but it's also musically uninteresting and thematically sketchy. As for the vocals, Skinner demonstrates with his first sentence ("It was supposed to be so eeeeeasy," delivered in an abrasive whine) that the emperor has no flow.

Granted, Skinner isn't really a hip-hop artist, a fact that's been lost on many U.S. scribes. His deluge of words is generally delivered monologue-style, with Skinner only occasionally attempting to reach notes he misses as often as he hits. Over ultra-simple backdrops, our protagonist tells the predictable story of a doomed relationship, which he tries to tart up via the enthusiastic use of Guy Ritchie language. But the longer it goes on, the more tiresome Skinner becomes. Although maybe not as tedious as that next critics' roundtable.