Mitchell Brothers A Breath of Fresh Attire

The Mike Skinner-produced debut from the Mitchell Brothers poses a problem of chronology: released last year in the UK but only now seeing the light of day west of the Atlantic, it actually precedes The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living as the Streets’ first obvious foray into asshole rap. Teddy and Tony Mitchell (not actually brothers) became the first signed to Skinner’s The Beats label after boldly slipping a demo disc into Mike’s back pocket while he was in line at a bank in Brixton. Unsurprisingly, Skinner handles all the production on A Breath of Fresh Attire and makes a few appearances on the microphone. Also unsurprisingly, the beats sound the same as all of the beats on all of Skinner’s other albums: skittering bass, lots of synth and clappy, snappy semi-snare sounds, tempered with a couple minor-key tearjerkers to show depth. Though, to be fair, the tracks are actually at least as good as anything on Easy Living. Lyrically, the Mitchell Brothers offer an uninspired mic presence plus an unlikeable, unfunny collective personality, just as Skinner did on Easy Living. They do bring a grittiness that Skinner could never convincingly portray ("Someone Can’t Look Us in the Eye,” for instance), but over his trademark soundscapes, the whole thing just sounds kind of silly. (Warner)