Producer and MC Mike Skinner became an even bigger name in 2004 after the release of his conceptual album 'A Grand Don't Come for Free', which brought out the sniffling in hard men everywhere with the pragmatic 'Dry Your Eyes'. 'A Grand....', and his debut 'Original Pirate Material', were both nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and by mid- 2004 he had shifted 3m albums.

However, all was not rosy in Skinner land and by the end of summer 2004 he was holed up in his South London flat plagued by paranoia and contemplating suicide.

'The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living' tells how he went off the rails following the death of his father from a long illness. He also spills his woes from the coalface of fame - trashing hotel rooms, losing thousands of pounds spread betting, fighting with his manager, the lack of challenge these days in pulling girls. Poor lamb.

Although there's less of Skinner's signature twisted garage flavour on this one, the hooks and beats are just as strong, and his blend of hip hop/mutated synthetic pop and crazy lyrics work so well together.

Among the highlights, 'Pragin' Out' has Skinner back from tour and snorting cocaine at 11.45am. His iron has been on for a month and his life is in chaos. Also standing out is the beautiful ode to his late father, 'Never Went to Church', which has Skinner feeling lost and searching for meaning amid a choir-like melody.

The geezer arrogance shines through in 'War of the Sexes' as he doles out pulling advice which recommends concentrating on a girl's boyfriend to get her attention. The lyrics "Get close to the lamb but then glance and turn to the man" do not endear. 'How to Con an Honest John' is vintage Streets' stuff which could easily double job as the script to a Guy Richie movie.

The title track is the only low point and deals in the dull subject matter of meetings, lawyers, budget accounts - all wrapped up in a weak chorus. The irresistible 'When You Wasn't Famous' tells of a night spent with a mystery famous pop star who smoked crack with him - a story the red tops gleefully seized. All a bit cheeky considering in 'Pragin' Out' he moans that the girl he is with will probably 'sell-tell'.

Elsewhere Skinner examines Anglo-American relations, going nuts on stage over what he thought was fake Streets merchandise, retail therapy and infidelity. It's a mix of themes with party songs intermingling with the existential strife.

Written and recorded on laptop over two years, Mike Skinner scores another hit with catchy tunes that prove - although wildly famous now, as he likes to remind us - he is as honest and talented as ever.

Mary McCarthy