A decade on from his era-defining debut, the announcement that Mike Skinner was to disband his The Streets project was pretty much met with a resounding shrug of the shoulders. The response to Rob Harvey’s psychedelic revivalists The Music’s split was even more muted, with most people unaware that they were still functioning in the first place. So it’s fair to say that the reaction wasn’t exactly at hysteria levels when the pair revealed they would be joining forces under the guise of The D.O.T. for a studio album, And That.
Initially unveiled through a series of online video diaries on their official website, none of the album’s eleven tracks come close to the urban poet-does-bedroom pop of Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don’t Come For Free. But with the exception of the plodding acoustic closer “Where Did I Go,” And That is a much more exciting proposition than their last collaboration (“Going Through Hell” from The Streets swansong, Computers & Blues) would suggest.
The D.O.T.’s journey through the annals of dance culture doesn’t always work. The more maximalist tracks such as “You Never Asked,” an early 90s rave/hip-hop soundclash featuring an abrasive rap from Detroit MC Danny Brown, and the grimey house of “Goes Off,” hint that they haven’t stepped foot inside a club for years. Their only true concession to dubstep, “Right Side Of Madness,” contains the kind of squalling guitar solo that even Slash would think was overblown.
But perhaps reflecting the duo’s mid-30s ages, And That is more engaging when it’s sound-tracking the comedown rather than the hedonistic night out. “What You Living For” is a subtle jazz-tinged slice of breakbeat which echoes the sophistication of early Roni Size, whilst “And A Hero” acts as pretty much the perfect accompaniment to a Balearic sunrise.
And although Skinner’s only lead vocal, the glittery disco of “Weapon of Choice” provides one of the album’s highlights, his decision to take more of a backseat role pays off, inspiring Harvey to tone down his usual Robert Plant impersonation and instead adopt a more vulnerable and less bombastic tone, even bursting into choirboy falsetto on the Prefab Sprout-esque synth-rock of “Shut Up & Keep Talking.”
Like both of their more recent respective works, The D.O.T.’s And That is something of a mixed bag, but there’s enough potential here to indicate that Harvey and Skinner’s unlikely partnership could turn out to be a dream team.