It’s to Cornershop’s eternal credit that, rather than attempt to exorcise the ghost of that song (or, to be exact, that remix) by throwing a decade-long sulk and retreating into tuneless unlistenability, they have instead embraced pop melodicism.
Even though they must know that their big moment will never return, they’ve turned out some cracking tunes since “Brimful of Asha”, blissfully oblivious to whether the world will be listening. For example, “Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III”, their swaggering T Rexy juggernaut from their 2002 album Handcream for a Generation.
The gloriously titled Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast picks up where Handcream left off. Something’s gone badly wrong with pop in those seven years, and Tjinder Singh and his songwriting partner Ben Ayres (who still holds downa day job as a press officer for Rough Trade Records) know it. Much of Cornershop’s sixth album is concerned with pinpointing what that something is, while simultaneously doing a little to put it right.
“Who Fingered Rock’n’Roll” combines a Stonesy riff with psychedelic sitar and soulful backing vocals, and, give or take the 47-second latino disco teaser “Half Brick”, most of side A (this album is broken into two notional halves, like albums used to be) continues in that vein: it might have been subtitled Exile on Jullander Shere.
When Primal Scream or The Charlatans do a similar thing, there’s an overpowering stench of death. Against the odds, Cornershop breathe new life into it. Side B shifts the emphasis to sunshiney fusion pop – typified by “The Constant Springs”, whose title is a reference to the baffling territorial bickering in Althea & Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking” – barring a pointless but pleasant Southern rock’n’roll rereading of Dylan’s much-covered “The Mighty Quinn”.
The closing “The Turned-On Truth”, a 16-minute rock’n’soul marathon, brings us full circle to the Keefmeets- Ravi hybrid where we came in. Cornershop have done something rather unexpected here. They’ve created a cultural critique you can dance to. Simon