There are many people for whom Mike Skinner will always maintain a degree of relevance; those for whom Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don’t Come For Free are almost ludicrously perfect snapshots of a particular moment in British culture, a flawless encapsulation of a certain type of person and the sort of life they lived a few years either side of the turn of the millennium.

Towards the end of his tenure as architect of The Streets, however, Skinner appeared to have been losing interest in anything resembling such cultural spokesmanship, and with the release of his first album as The D.O.T. with The Music's Rob Harvey last year, he seemed to be wilfully and wholeheartedly abandoning it.

Which is fine, of course; musicians have no duty to strive for relevance, and in fact many produce some of their best work when they ignore it entirely. The problem, though, is that Skinner's greatest music always fed off of its own musical innovation and cultural resonance. On The D.O.T.'s new album Diary, just as on their debut And That last year, these are the things that Skinner has most conspicuously chosen to jettison. Pulsing, light-footed garage has largely been abandoned in favour of everything from plodding disco influences to ham-fisted ballads; the commitment to eclecticism is apparently still present, but there is little sense of energy or vibrancy. The songs simply stomp by, content in doing just that and not much more. Likewise, lyrically, the record generally has aspirational aims that too often wind up sounding vague and unfocused, and attempts at Skinner's old classic attention to minutiae come across as forced.

Of course, these deficiencies are not just Skinner's; The D.O.T. is a duo, and the fact that The Streets had a much greater impact than Harvey's old group The Music, does not mean this should just be treated solely as a new Mike Skinner project. In fact, Harvey takes the vocal lead on almost all of the album's tracks; a good thing too, given that Skinner has totally abandons his conversational raps in favour of his rough and ready, flat toned singing voice whenever he contributes vocally.

Harvey is a fine vocalist, but like the sounds that he works over he lacks any particular character or feeling to grab a listener in any real or lasting way. Coupled with the lack of musical verve and generally pedestrian lyrics, it makes the whole record feel resolutely workmanlike. You do get the sense, not just from the record but also from the accompanying interviews and even press photos of the pair, that they are not trying to create anything earth shattering, and are more interested in making music for its own sake. Again, that's fine, but you can't help but wish that the music they wanted to make was just a little more spirited.

Despite its flaws, (or, rather, lack of standout qualities), Diary isn't entirely irredeemable. Single 'How We All Lie' rides some of the record's more memorable melodies to a position as obvious highlight, and Skinner in particular remains relentlessly likeable enough to avoid provoking any real animosity. But, ultimately, the album comes and goes without leaving any real sort of impression, which can[t help but be disappointing coming half from a man whose 11-year-old debut album still inspires hushed and awed conversations.