For my money, The Streets’ 2004 sophomore release A Grand Don’t Come For Free — an album-length shaggy-dog story about missing money — is an indisputable, untoppable masterpiece. The flip side of that coin, unfortunately, is that Mike Skinner has had nowhere to go but down — and that’s exactly where he’s gone (albeit gradually). In fact, he’s fallen so far off the radar that even I didn’t notice (or care) that it’s been nine years since he released a new album. Technically, he still hasn’t — he calls his grammatically challenged comeback release None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive a mixtape. Maybe because it’s basically a duets album. Or maybe because he apparently made it on his phone (and unfortunately, it sounds like it). Whatever the rationale, it’s certainly one way to lower expectations for these 12 cuts. And not without good reason: Too many of them feel half-baked and tossed-off, trading the nimble delivery and brilliantly wry wit of old for middle-aged griping and clunky rhymes. Now that he’s been lapped by newcomers like Sleaford Mods, Skinner has come to a critical juncture: He needs to get back on track and made another masterpiece, or get out of the game for good. One wrong turn does not deserve another.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “With guest spots ranging from Grammy-nominated psychedelia sovereign Tame Impala to cult south London rapper Jesse James Solomon, as well as 2019’s key-fiend-friendly drum’n’bass collab with Chris Lorenzo, None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive is the most eclectic and highly collaborative collection of songs from The Streets yet. Or as Mike Skinner puts it with characteristic distinction: “it’s really just a rap duets album.” Every track on None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive has one if not two guests, who, though underpinned by Mike’s distinctive lyrical flair, usually perform atop a genre or sound not previously explored within the realm of The Streets. “You know that thing where if you wore it the first time round, don’t wear it the second time round? I would never put on Aquascutum at this point in my life. It would be stupid, a pastiche of what I did 20 years ago. For all of us. Whereas now I’m going back and I’m picking things that I didn’t pick before.”