The fourth album by genre-bending UK rap act The Streets was the succinct Everything Is Borrowed. Though mixed by UK garage legend Mike Millrain, who had also played a part in the group’s third record, 2006’s The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living, it is almost completely dislocated from their garage roots, featuring as it does the Czech FILMharmonic Orchestra alongside busy British harpist Camilla Pay. While The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living had wrapped up the tale of Mike Skinner’s time in music to date – sometimes in grim detail – it also laid the groundwork for him to expand into broader matters in his inimitable, relatable way. Released on 15 September 2008 in the UK, and following on 7 October in the US, Everything Is Borrowed saw Skinner reflecting upon the maturation of Generation X, and its thematic content is even more relevant now than on first release.
Listen to ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ here.
A world in existential plight
Everything Is Borrowed begins with its title track, which was also released as a single. The video showed Skinner’s character swapping the cocaine overload of the previous album for newfound family life (“I came to this world with nothing/And I leave with nothing but love”), but with very adult problems hiding just around the corner, in the shape of the bailiffs. The single’s remix followed in the tradition of a number of Streets do-overs from their second and third albums, replacing Skinner’s vocals with those of hot grime acts – in this case Rinse, who was following in Skinner’s path but still had more to learn.
Also released as a single, Heaven For The Weather was a piano-backed, religion-themed cut which revisited themes explored on the Hardest Way standout Never Went To Church. As on that song, Skinner – who appears in the video lecturing as a self-help guru – comes across as undecided but engaged with the topic: “I want to go to Heaven for the weather/But Hell for the company.” Another piano-backed piece follows, in the shape of the spacious relationship song I Love You More (Than You Like Me). While not a single, as with many tracks on Everything Is Borrowed it was also afforded a video which, in the nascent-YouTube era, made the album one of the most visually accessible releases of its time. The indie-styled music and rapid-fire environmentally-themed raps of The Way Of The Dodo led to a particularly good clip, showing the human world in existential plight while plasticine figures did the titular dance.