Alternative | Garage | Electronic
The Birmingham-based rapper, songwriter and record producer Mike Skinner used to be known exclusively for the band he founded, named The Streets. And until very recently, that was pretty much the only thing I had affiliated with him in a musical sense.
I had obviously grown up at a time where tracks like “Has It Come to This?”, “Dry Your Eyes”, and “Fit but You Know It” were true staple songs. But there was more to The Streets that I liked, other than just their old stuff. Namely, the recent mixtape released under The Streets, 2020’s None Of Us Are Getting Out Of this Life Alive, was very enjoyable in my eyes.
But fast-forward to this here year of 2020, almost a year on to the day, and Mike Skinner throws us an interesting curveball.
Said curveball, is also a very confusing one, however. Mike Skinner’s newest album has been released under his alternate solo project, which he has given the name of The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light. However, the album is called The Streets.
Maybe this was just Mike Skinner pulling some kind of creative prank, or perhaps it’s a way of drawing more people into Mike Skinner’s lesser known musical project. Upon further inspection, I realised that under The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light, Skinner had been releasing singles since all the way back in 2017. With that said though, The Streets is the debut album from this alternate alias.
Allegedly made to be some kind of “soundtrack for a musical film”, I could kind of recognise that quality within The Streets, to help set it apart from the artist counterpart.
The other quality that helped The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light stand out, was how much Mike Skinner leaned towards melodic vocals as opposed to rapping. Mike Skinner’s singing voice is far from the most heavenly, but he still manages to kind of make it work. Fans of The Streets fret not, however; the clever bars that Skinner is known and loved for, come plentifully with this album too.
However, there is a certain mellowness to this album that appears to be quite the double-edged sword. I found that the tracks I didn’t enjoy as much as the better ones either felt too repetitive with its production, or could’ve had way more added to them in regards to their lyrics. And unfortunately, the majority of tracks suffer from either or both.
That being said though, The Streets is another example of Mike Skinner coming through with another sobering vibe, which is always refreshing to hear in the height of summer (although, said “height” seems to be quite absent in legitimate summer weather).
I’m not so sure that The Streets will really allow The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light to stand out completely from the much more widely known project of Mike Skinner. But despite the confusion it represents, I appreciated the somewhat unique experience.
Favourite Tracks: The Good In You | Don’t Judge The Book | Love Is An Aching Tooth
Least Favourite Track: Act Nice
Enjoyment: 7/10 | Memorability: 5/10 | Atmosphere: 8/10
Uniqueness: 7/10 | Satisfaction: 5/10 | Narrative: 7/10