Cornershop return with an alternative history of Brit Pop.
Louis Pattison 2009
Cornershop originally took their name as an arch reference to the stereotype of the famously hard-working Asian shopkeeper, but these days you could probably describe the work ethic of Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres' musical partnership as 'It comes when it comes'. Seven years on from their last album, 2002's Handcream For A Generation, and 11 years since their glorious Brimful Of Asha single, buoyed by a Fatboy Slim remix, made it to the top of the UK chart, they now return with their fifth album proper, the bizarrely-titled Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast.
Long gone now is their passion for agit-pop rabble-rousing, as typified by 1993's clattery debut single, In The Days Of Ford Cortina Ð but actually, there's something implicitly political about Cornershop's current incarnation. Blending hallmarks of UK rock heritage - Beatlesesque melody, stack-heeled glam-rock, shiny Britpop - with rattling tabla, sitar, dholaki drum and Tjinder's rich Indian-accented croon, Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast imagines how the timeline of vintage British pop would have sounded had it not whitewashed out a lot of the foreign faces along the way.
Of course, you don't have to see it that way if you don't want to. You can just enjoy the tunes: Who Fingered Rock 'n' Roll, a sequinned 70s riffer with excess cowbell, exultant backing vocals, and hard-jamming sitar; the title track, a McCartney-esque narrative with soft horns and woodwind; and Free Love, Indian song and backwards keyboard over a determined, funky drum break.
Arguably, these days Cornershop are at their best when dispensing concise pop nuggets: you may lose track somewhere in the middle of the closing 17 minute The Turned On Truth (The Truth Is Turned On), which attempts to recreate the zoned-out jamming of earlier Cornershop epic, 6 am Jullandar Shere, but lacks that song's sense of urgency. As a long-lens fade out on a great album, though, it does the job. It might have been seven years in the making, but 'It comes when it comes' sounds like the sort of work ethic that bears sweet fruit.