The D.O.T. - Diary
This is a curious one, this. After retiring The Streets in 2011, fans of Mike Skinner's laddish lyrical genius have been waiting to see if his threat to disband was a mere PR ploy (Lily Allen, anyone?) or a genuine full stop. It turns out it's neither really, as the everyman Brummy poet has teamed up with Rob Harvey, he of shoulda-beens The Music, to deliver The D.O.T. debut; Diary is a record that hinges on a modern concept, the final fruit of an online video project, but combines elements of Skinner's past musical glories and Harvey's experience as a charismatic frontman to deliver something that will please fans of both yet has fun in throwing up curveballs.
Skinner himself takes a backseat to Harvey, who relishes the chance to lead with the same blend of bawdy swagger and surprising sentiment that Skinner triumphantly turned in on his best albums. Harvey also brings with him the same danceable grooves that underpinned his band's best and made them a more exciting proposition than the Razorlights and Keanes that flooded the mid-noughties. The sound is playful, largely setting mid-tempo anthemics to a backdrop of drum machines and synth loops, with some oddball experiments such as the leftfield disco-pop of 'Left Alone' and 'Wherever You May Be' (which, at one point, sounds like Jamiroquai). 'Most of My Time's funky soul is a great highlight but represents something of a hit-and-miss eclecticism about an album that nevertheless retains Skinner's original voice and lyrical charm, while giving Harvey a second chance to shine.