Release Date: May 6, 2013
Record label: Awesome Music
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Garage, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Garage Rap/Grime
When he dissolved The Streets, Mike Skinner’s first intention was to move into filmmaking. His memoir last year admitted that his most successful record, 2004’s A Grand Don’t Come For Free, followed a screenwriting formula which could be applied to his whole career - Inciting Incident (Original Pirate Material), Villain’s Plan (The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living), Visit To Death (Everything Is Borrowed) and Resolution (Computers and Blues). While nothing cinematic has materialised, The D.O.T.
By the time Mike Skinner decided to pull the plug on the Streets, the Birmingham-born rapper was exploring and utilizing pop/rock ballad formulas that often felt out of place alongside his brand of U.K. garage. The Music's Rob Harvey became his go-to chorus singer during these early ventures into unknown terrain and it comes as little surprise to see the pair taking things further with the D.O.T.
When Mike Skinner’s The Streets called it a day in 2011 it was with a whimper rather than a bang. One classic album (Original Pirate Material) and one great album (A Grand Don’t Come For Free) exhausted a sound that’s been much emulated ever since. Then, the release of a deliberately ‘boring’ (Skinner’s own description) third LP – 2006’s (slightly) underrated The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living – left The Streets’ next two albums facing an uphill challenge to re-establish Skinner in the affections of the record-buying public.
This second LP from Mike Skinner's new act, a collaboration with vocalist Rob Harvey, comes just six months after the first. This would suggest one of two things; that the pair have struck such a fruitful partnership that great music flows effortlessly, or that the quality-control gauge is faulty. Sadly, the latter seems more the case. The production is tinny and thin, the largely disco-inspired tunes simple and sing-song.
At what point does a blip become a rut? The question seems pertinent on The DOT’s second album when you start thinking back to when Mike Skinner last made a good record. A second LP from his project with The Music’s Robert Harvey is hardly here by popular demand, and The Streets’ era-defining first two albums were subsequently followed by three hugely questionable efforts. ‘Diary’, however, is easily the worst thing Skinner has ever released.
We live in a world where everything is packaged, divided, sub-divided, kept in its little box and never allowed to escape. In the digital age the infinitesimal divisions of genre and sub-genre have become rigid road maps by which we all triangulate our taste and measure our cool. Rubbish, isn’t it?So what happens when someone mixes up that rigidity, kicks the doors down and does what they sodding well want? With ‘Diary’, the second album from The D.O.T, Mike Skinner and Rob Harvey have done just that.