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Credit: Simon Crompton Reid

Stream Mike Skinner's surprise new album 'The Streets'

The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light - 'The Streets'

Mike Skinner is a crafty devil, and it would seem that his continued support of “Freedom day” (the proposed date that lockdown restrictions in the UK would be fully lifted) wasn’t just about him making a few Instagram reels. Instead, it was a prelude to a surprise new album from his side project The Darker the Shadow the Brighter the Light.

The new album is called The Streets, the moniker of Skinner’s project from a few years back which defined a whole generation of listeners, and it begins with one of the artist’s finest beats. It’s enough to take the day off and begin the weekend early.

Sneakily dropping the record onto streaming platforms this morning (June 25), the British icon may well have been hoping for a weekend of playing his songs in packed nightclubs without a mask in sight. Instead, we will have to settle for our own parties, but one thing won’t change, this record is being spun up and down the country all weekend.

Nine songs on the album showcase Skinner at his beat-producing best. Feeling as close to The Streets’ seminal album Original Pirate Material as Skinner has ever got, the record is permeated by the wobbling mental balance the entire world has undergone over the last tumultuous year and a half.

Naturally labelled to confuse his audience, Skinner unleashes this album with a view on the past, a vision of the future and a reflection on the world we live in. It means the beats are glitchy, Skinner’s vocals are vulnerable and uncomfortable, yet it all holds together as a generally uplifting piece.

The latest drop from Mike Skinner is always going to be a big splash but this LP has landed with the kind of nonchalance that suggests it is only the start of a new run of release from Skinner.

We hope it lasts until next festival season.