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The Streets: The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

The Streets: The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

Release Date:2006

By Jim Breihan | Posted 6/14/2006

The third Streets album, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, is Mike Skinner’s first acknowledgment of his star status, at least in his native U.K. While it lacks the all-or-nothing urgency of his 2002 debut, Original Pirate Material, or the narrative focus of his sophomore concept album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, this is the first time, for good or ill, that we get to hear former regular bloke Skinner waxing philosophical about being rich and famous. Despite his newfound cash, the beats still sound like they were thrown together in five minutes: twitchy, sometimes ridiculously catchy, sometimes earth-shattering, despite—or because of—their simplicity. Skinner still can’t flow on them to save his life, still substituting his trademark singsong conversational chatter for actual rapping.

The lyrics are once again soul-baring but tongue-in-cheek, going back and forth from his growing identity crisis to worries about the press to woozy pop songs about sex and gleefully wasting money. Over swirling synthesizers and whistles, the title track breaks down Skinner’s business expenses and his worries about bankruptcy only to then chronicle his spending sprees: “I want a pinstriped suit that no man owns/ Cash in the Kano beat for a silver Shadow.” He contradicts himself two songs later, bragging on “Memento Mori” that he “never think[s] about money/ In fact, I have no idea how much money I have.” Though the album doesn’t hold together as well as Grand, the fact that the songs bounce along the way they do allows Skinner to have more fun with Easy Living than you’d expect, given the subject matter.

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