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Sunday, May 30, 2004



The Streets: "A Grand Don't Come for Free"

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The music of The Streets could be seen as validating those who drink, take drugs, eat burgers and chips, chase girls, gamble and fight. Maybe it does. But no one who does all those things all the time could make something as well-observed, witty and moving as this album. Then again, it is definitely music drawn from experience.

The "grand" of the title refers to £1,000, which singer Mike Skinner in the first track finds has gone missing. Each subsequent track stands alone but continues the story of the missing grand, dealing with such crucial everyday occurrences such as overdue DVDs, broken TVs and hearts, and a dead battery on a mobile phone.

Perhaps Skinner exaggerates his proletarian character traits, but he is a true wordsmith in the same league as Shaun Ryder and a musician in the tradition of Massive Attack. The tunes are chirpy, the samples homemade and Skinner delivers it all in his unique staccato-rap style. "Dry Your Eyes," which tells of when Skinner loses the girl he scored in an earlier track, "Could Well Be In," is touching to the point of tears and destined to become a classic anthem to lost love. By the end of the final track, "Empty Cans," which solves the mystery of the missing grand, you'll be singing in the streets.

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