A collection full of life from a band that evidently loves what they do.
John Aizlewood 2012-05-10
Those who predicted that Cornershop would be a one-hit wonder once Brimful of Asha bid a tearful farewell to the charts had a technical point – after all, they've never had so much as a British top 20 single since that 1998 number one. But they missed a more pressing point too: Cornershop were always in it for the long haul. This is their eighth album.
Anyway, they were never really suited to having hits. As they understood better than anyone, perhaps, Brimful of Asha's success was more a result of its Norman Cook remix than a sudden yen for the idiosyncratic sound of Indian-indie, and since then Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres have ploughed a jaunty, but musically questing furrow. If Cornershop and the Double 'O' Groove Of, their collaboration with Preston laundry worker Bubbley Kaur, was surely the happiest album of 2011, there's no shortage of substance here.
A compilation of tracks from their subscription-only Singhles Club (it sounds like fun: members received a free ‘turban man mask’ with one track), Urban Turban isn't quite as unashamedly jolly as its predecessor, but there's no less love of life.
What Did the Hippie Have in His Bag? appears twice, features a Lancashire primary school choir on backing vocals ("Now, you carry on because I've just dropped a crayon") and evokes the child-like (not to be confused with childish) simplicity of Jonathan Richman without being condescending to adult ears.
There's less cohesion too, since there's a guest vocalist on every track, bar the cheekily titled, plinky instrumental First W** on the Moon. Rajwant turns Beacon Radio 303 into Punjabi funk, while Amar turns the tabla-fuelled Inspector Bamba Singh's Lament into their most hardcore Asian sound in years.
But, for all the joy Cornershop take in their heritage, they avoid marooning themselves in a ghetto. The throaty In Light of Aquarius ensure Milkin' It sounds altogether more American and namechecks Kurtis Blow and Rakim. SoKo seduces her way through the Sweet Jane-sound-alike Something Makes You Feel Like, and Katie sprinkles some cheesy gympop vocals over the hypnotic, proudly retro (imagine if there were to be a Liquid Gold revival) Solid Gold.
There's the occasional meander and they'd surely revel in a bigger production budget, but there's nobody remotely like them and few who seem to actually enjoy being in a band more.