HomeMusicReview: The Streets The Streets “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” (Pure Groove / Universal) So, you’ve made a groundbreaking hit record and have been dubbed, by all of the major pop pubs, as “the next big thing”. Your style a fresh meshing between UK Garage and hip-hop sensibilities. How do you keep from being a novelty? Just as importantly, how do you avoid the sophomore slump with such high expectations? If you are Mike Skinner, aka The Streets, it’s easy: tell a simple story of losing a grand and finding love, all the while detailing your gambling habit, sheisty friends, and the stages of the boy-girl love game. From the prolific, symphonic brass that drives in the opening “It Was Supposed To Be So Easy”, to the fading and reverberating synths that drive a despondent mood into “Blinded by the Lights”, to the soft and reflective guitar samples that weep with “Dry Your Eyes”, Skinner unsurprisingly weaves together yet another cohesive effort with his production talents. What is surprising is how he turns such a seemingly cliché story of love and life into a fresh and poignant trip through places we’ve all seen before. Love takes its course, true friends are realized; frustration, euphoria, anger, happiness, and the like are experienced appropriately; and the finale (“Empty Cans”) is something only a mastermind could conceive. Sophomore slump? No. More like a one-man game of “King of the Castle”.