To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.
2002 – #4. The Streets – Original Pirate Material
I hadn’t heard anything like the Streets before I heard the Streets. I was working at Warners at the time and everyone was raving about this Streets record – Original Pirate Material. So I gave it a go. It blew my mind.
It actually wasn’t that different to some of the music I loved. Mike Skinner’s use of lyrics is as sharp as Elvis Costello. The British-ness was no more British than Blur or Supergrass. Even the song structures – it wasn’t like there was long bits of beats with no lyrics or ideas – in a way this could be tal;king blues over synths.
All that is well and good, it explains why I didn’t hate it. But why did I love it?
I loved the politics of it. I loved the self reflectiveness. Two things that had abandoned rock, who after the Strokes, had lost all sense of irony, subtext and intelligence.
The two big early songs spell it out. Has It Come To This? is a manifesto, with Skinner asking why the rave scene he used to love has grown so shallow. even better is Let’s Push Things Forward – hooked by one of the best lines ever to use in a music argument
You say that everything sounds the same
Then you go buy them
When was the last time you heard anyone in any genre say hey, our music can be better, in a song? Chances are Lets Push Things Forward was it (it also has a dated shout out to Alta Vista).
The social commentary is spot on as well. Geezers Need Excitement is such a simple statement on England’s thuggier side. More powerful is The Irony of It All, a debate between a drunken football lout and a pot head.
It’s not all heavy handedness either. The brilliant Don’t Mug Yourself is a great tune, and the type of Streets fun that Skinner would return to again and again.
It had really been quite a while since I heard an album that threw so many big ideas out there. Yet Skinner really, truly loved the music. It’s best summed up on Weak Become Heroes – a gorgeous nostalgic look back at the musical heroes that inspired Skinner, who finally got their day in the sun.
Skinner claims the next, fifth, Streets album will be the last. He has made four close to perfect albums so far, and a fifth to wrap up ten years of music will be perfect. It will be like Felt. I hope he pulls it off, and he joins the pantheon of heores he sang about on this record. and 7 years later, he definitely did push things forward.