When Mike Skinner came on the scene with Original Pirate Material in 2002 there understandable excitement surrounding his arrival. He assumed the role as a sort of musical everyman of the modern age, rapping about things that affected most of his male peers in the far West of Europe, dodgy E’s, cheating girlfriends and seeing ‘men’ about ‘dogs’. Original Pirate Material was exactly as Skinner intended, an anthem to the every day life on the streets in any faceless UK town.
Fast forward about eight years and Skinner still doesn’t quite speak for the streets as much as he used to. His latest and last effort as The Streets, Computers and Blues, is his first in just over two years. Although Skinner’s subject matter is still relatively relevant, it seems more like he’s running out of subject matter and is perhaps even a little old for what he’s ‘rapping’ about (just listen to the Facebook themed ‘OMG’ and you’ll understand).
Musically the album seems rushed and under produced. Garage-type beats are still the order of the day, but the songs hang on weak beats, cheesy hooks and choruses. Lyrically too, it isn’t Skinner’s finest work. When you consider that he once penned the brilliant ‘Blinded by the Lights’, it seems almost unbelievable that Skinner has fallen so far. ‘Puzzled by People’ stands out on the album but not enough to salvage anything of worth, which is quite disappointing.
Original Pirate Material was a brilliant slice of social commentary, but that was a long time ago and since Skinner has been under performing more with every release. Sadly this may be the last we see of him.