“DRY YOUR EYES”
August 30, 2004
A big hello to all of my esteemed and cherished programmers. It’s Andy Gesner and the staff from HIP Video Promo dialing you in to another engaging and gripping new video. A few months ago, we were honored to be chosen to work with VICE Recordings on the campaign to better acquaint the American airwaves with Britain’s most remarkable and emblematic young artist. As part of that campaign, you surely received a copy of the Madness-influenced “Fit But You Know It”. Today we’re thrilled to be sending you the follow-up clip from A Grand Don’t Come For Free, the extraordinary second album by The Streets. With the ballad “Dry Your Eyes”, Mike Skinner has delivered a passionate lament that’s moving enough to transcend all cultural barriers and storm the charts on both sides of the Atlantic
Introducing Mike Skinner to America has been an intentionally gradual endeavor. While Streets music is nothing if not catchy and memorable, Skinner works in an idiom that’s more familiar to British listeners than Stateside ones. Combining the storytelling majesty of hip-hop to European garage and club music – and delivering it all in that intensely conversational voice of his – Skinner’s songs are invariably rich in specificity and narrative. Original Pirate Material, the debut album, heralded the coming of a completely indelible and full character: a young, reflective U.K. everyman with allegiance to his lifestyle and culture, but ambivalence about its hedonism. Those concepts are further explored on A Grand Don’t Come For Free, a continuous story complete with twists, subplots, romance, arguments, a sustained mystery, recurring themes, and a surprise ending worthy of O. Henry
“Dry Your Eyes”, the penultimate track on Grand, is as direct an appeal for sympathy as a Skinner character has ever made. By the time the narrator has reached this painful, speechless impasse with Simone, his romantic interest, he’s managed to misplace a thousand quid somewhere, battle a gambling problem and the “crap reception” of phone networks, kick back against the stifling domesticity of his monogamous relationship, and return from an ill-fated Mediterranean holiday to find himself betrayed by one of his mates. But you don’t have to have followed the narrative thread from the outset of the album to understand what’s going on here, or to be moved by the plight of a man of a thousand words who’s come to that place where there’s nothing left to say. Skinner decorates the heartbreaking verse with strings and delicately-strummed guitar, and a sung chorus that encourages the protagonist to resign himself to the inevitable decay of love.
The video camera loves Mike Skinner almost as much as his fans do. His performances in Streets clips have always been compelling – he inhabits his characters fully, and addresses the audience with the directness of the best film actors. But if the “Fit But You Know It” video brought out his boisterous, cheeky side, “Dry Your Eyes” concentrates on the sensitive Skinner. His baby face has always been an asset, and the “Dry Your Eyes” clip shows a ruminative Skinner alone with his pet bulldog. He’s often shot at a distance, seated, in public place – a laundromat, a bus stop, a pool-hall, a football stadium. But it’s after hours, and these rooms are empty except for our hero and his dog. Skinner runs his hand through his close-cropped hair, covers his eyes, and looks up at the camera in bewilderment and disbelief. Even video-game escapism — a recurring theme on Streets albums – won’t do the trick, as the screen flashes “you lose”. Throughout, the light is dimly fluorescent-electric, strained; the party is over, everybody’s gone home.
I make no secret of the fact that The Streets are my Artist of the Year so far in 2004, and the entire HIP crew is revved up about this new video. We will be prepared to meet any and all of your Streets needs. If you need more info, call Andy Gesner at (732) 613-1779, or email [email protected] You can also visit VICE Recordings or The Streets’ official site at the links below to find out more about The Streets.