Label: 679 Link: http://www.the-streets.co.uk Did anyone really like The Streets last album? I don't think so. Not even the residual goodwill Mike Skinner built up with A Grand Don't Come For Free and it's blockbusting single 'Dry Your Eyes' stopped the backlash. There was just too little to like about the celebrity checking, drug-fug recollections, and the more personal, confessional songs lacked all sincerity. Everything is Borrowed, thankfully, solves these problems, retaining only the focus on pop song structure and brevity. Indeed, you sense a whole shift in Skinner's attitude. Having stared at the emptiness fame presented him with, that which drove him into apparent hedonism, he has now turned, and found an acceptance and appreciation of the little pleasures life can offer. Hell, if it wasn't for the sexual desire shown in 'Never Give In,' I'd be tempted to suggest that The Streets have gone Buddhist. “There's no rain on roof that grates and beats me / my favourite tree breaking lights to pieces / sprinkling, sharded light on me,” Skinner says on final track, 'The Escapist', “I'll not feel no fear / Cause I'm not really here.” This is the state of mind that Buddhism teaches as being most helpful to overall contentment; the use of meditation to lose ones sense of self, the feeling that we are here, with all the associated discomforts life brings. Once acheived, this is supposed to make you able to appreciate the little joys life can offer far more acutely. Little things like the sound of rain on a roof, or glints of light in a tree. All this, of course, could be horrifically pretentious in the wrong hands. How many post-grads have we seen fail miserably to understand and emulate Jack Kerouac's beatific musings? It is lucky then, that Skinner has rediscovered his everyman persona, and his instinctive ability to capture vague ideas in plain speech that communicates in a very direct way. “When the wind of change whistles into play / Will I blink or flinch away? / The wind of change won't whistle me away,” he resolves on the title track, once again showing an acceptance of life and the random events that make it up. 'On the Edge of the Cliff' puts an anecdote that captures a profoundly pleasing viewpoint at it's centre, but it avoids tweeness by adding that “everywhere I tell folk it gets the best smile,” a line which allies the story more to a conversation between mates than any self-conscious songwriting trick. It's not all man-at-the-bar philosophising though. 'The Sherry End' is a witty and truthful celebration of how groups of close mates invent their own, specific languages in the process of getting together and having a laugh. 'Heaven for the Weather' is a cracking bouncy pop single coming from a similar angle to 'Fit But You Know It,' but the ideas, based around an acceptance of the evil in human nature, have more substance than that suggests. The pop sensibility runs through the whole album, in fact, and no matter how lofty the ideas are there is always a strong, catchy, three-minute tune to contain them. It's breezy and peaceful in the music, never becoming paranoid or sharp as on previous Streets albums. In some ways this is negative. I do miss the rasp of a 'Don't Mug Yourself,' or the confusion of a 'Blinded by the Lights,' but in this case I choose to follow Skinner's example and accept what is offered here. If you're prepared not to receive another Original Pirate Material, this is an uplifting album made for the summer-that-wasn't that gives us back a superb, straight talking lyricist who can communicate ideas with brevity and skill.