A credible contender to take the urban poet crown following Mike Skinner's recent abdication, aptly named MC Ghostpoet's debut album, Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam's tales of contemporary British suburban life has much in common with the Streets' influential debut, whether it's the lo-fi bedsit-style production, the everyday lyrical observations, or Obaro Ejimiwe's lazy, conversational delivery. But while Original Pirate Material often laced its social commentary with a "getting ready for the weekend" fusion of two-step garage, ska, and hip-hop, the self-described "lad with a lisp with some stories to tell" appears more concerned with providing a soundtrack for the early morning after the night before. Full of ambient electronica, woozy rhythms, and languid half-asleep vocals, its ten self-produced tracks effortlessly evoke that 4 A.M. feeling, whether it's the cleverly titled "Cash and Carry Me Home," a pulsing slice of dubstep which deals with an out-of-control drinking session, the menacing, improvised jazz of "Finished I Ain't," or the glacial beats, ominous strings, and sci-fi synths of "Us Against Whatever Ever," while the claustrophobic and twitchy garage of "Longing for the Night (Yeah Pause)" actually addresses the torment of a restless night's sleep. While these drowsy atmospherics remain he album's default setting, Ejimiwe occasionally provides some welcome daylight to the prevalent shade, as on the ethereal soul of "Survive It," which combines subtle jazzy piano chords and gentle skittering percussion with a delightfully upbeat female vocal and an uncharacteristically breezy pop chorus, the techno-tinged "I Just Don't Know, and the album's closer, "Liiines," an unexpected but convincing foray into new wave indie pop territory, which surprisingly blends in with the dominant doom-laden urban vibes. Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam might be just a little too left-field to capture the zeitgeist in the same way that Skinner did a decade previously, but it's a hypnotic and ultimately rewarding debut which, along with recent efforts from James Blake and Jamie Woon, proves that the words chill-out and challenging don't have to be mutually exclusive.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien