Redundant sonic sterilization undercuts The Hardest Way To Make an Easy Living, and its seething silliness and watery, light structures are far more offensive than any of the content that The Streets' Mike Skinner delivers on his third album. The once colorfully overt coke talk ("Pranging Out," "When You Wasn't Famous") now points to Skinner's undoing on Hardest, as limp beats, omnipresent sung choruses and barely comical chatter muddy his rare lyrical crest. Out of 11 entries, a mere few don't dangle amid this uncharacteristic lack of stunners. His sky-gazing, sincere "Let It Be" motions on "Never Went to Church" and the frilly, fanciful chimes of the title track feed the diminishing brilliant handful that looks back at when nearly every cut sparkled like these. Mike Skinner once made whole albums as striking as this pair, and it was only two years ago.
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