If Computers and Blues (officially out in the U.K. February 7 but streaming now via The Guardian) really is, as promised, the last album from The Streets, Mike Skinner can go out with his head held high. After two successive albums that failed to match the lofty standards of his rookie and sophomore releases, Skinner — apparently enervated and emboldened by the fact that Computers would be the last we’d be hearing from him for a while — has managed to tap into some of that old magic. How rarely does that happen? Anyway: It starts here with Skinner’s production, for which he’s rediscovered his dark, fragmented, oft massive groove — incessant bleeps laid over epic swells, spare piano lines running into dubstep breakbeats, hard, bouncy bass lines muddled by his blunt, monotone, subtly off-kilter flow. Lyrically, Skinner flits in and out of topics and images — an ultrasound of his unborn child, his conflicted relationship with drugs, busted romances, one particularly good live performance, cigarettes, bathing, biscuits, crisps — but stays on message, doing his best throughout to communicate a vibe of undramatic, everyday alienation. On the last track, “Lock the Locks,” Skinner literally packs up his desk and shuts off the lights on his way out the door. He leaves behind a very nice going-away gift.
Hear the Streets’ Computers and Blues - Album Stream [Guardian UK]