...honesty is still the best policy in the fight against mediocrity.
Chris Jones 2002
In a world obsessed with the minutiae of D-list 'stars' and their tragi-comic dysfunctionalism, who needs another autobiographical album whinging about the hardships of success? Luckily Mike Skinner, the man who is The Streets, has a more perceptive and honest eye than most.
Filled with tales of self-loathing, drug abuse and the creative wasteland of fame, you might expect The Hardest Way... to be devoid of laughs. Not a chance; songs like "When You Wasn't Famous" (don't snort coke in front of the camera phones, starlets!), and "Memento Mori" (the best retail therapy song, ever) show Mike can still find comedy among the chaos.
His serious points - particularly on "Two Nations" and "Never Went To Church" - seem a little at odds with the very (self-imposed) disposable nature of his work, and his Eminem-style use of nursery rhyme tunes can pall over a whole album. Yet at 39 minutes Skinner's already learned that less is more. And that honesty is still the best policy in the fight against mediocrity.