THE STREETS – “Has It Come To This?”

“You’re listening to The Streets”

Are we? The Streets is a novelty record which has the feel of an underground record, or – maybe even better – it’s an underground record which has the feel of a novelty record. It drops this question right into the middle of itself, too. “Original pirate material…lock down your aerial” say The Streets, but then they say “Tony’s got a new motor”, and the record they’re rewinding is suddenly, stupidly, an Alexi Sayle tune from ’85. And beats later The Streets say “Deep-seated urban decay! Deep-seated urban decay!” like it’s a shout out, but spin back and The Streets tell you “Think I’m ghetto? Stop dreaming.”, so who knows what we’re listening to? One guy in his bedroom with consoles, computers and herbs; one guy out on the streets with a voice-held camera, fading out into the streets, becoming The Streets.

The Streets are the version of the streets he thinks we think we want to hear about. You recognise it half from what you see when you walk out the door, and half from what you see when you get home late and switch on Channel Four. And because you recognise it, when you hear The Streets for the first time you can’t quite believe it: you’re not used to this kind of lyricism on the radio, especially not when you think it’s maybe a piss-take. It’s confusing and funny (like a real street), it’s dramatic and jagged and there’s nobody about but geezers and their birds (like a fake ‘street’ street). You’ve never heard anything like it – sure, you might claim you could have thought up John Cooper Clarke fronting the Artful Dodger, but I don’t believe you. But your half-new territory is The Streets’ home turf, and for this fabulous one-off visit he doesn’t put a foot wrong, while you’re still struggling with the map.