Cornershop – ‘Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove of’ (Album Review)

Cornershop – Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove of

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Cornershop have quietly producing interesting and fun guitar-pop fusion for almost two decades, getting their break back in ’98 when Norman Cook gave their minor hit ‘Brimful of Asha’ a big beat makeover. When the group reappeared on the scene in 2009 after a seven-year break, it was to deliver a lively, Stones-esque collection of R&B/rock entitled Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast. Their first album since leaving Beggars Banquet (on fairly acrimonious terms), it was released independently by the band, utilising both the selling power of the Internet and immediacy of local record shops.

Latest effort, Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove of sees remaining members Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres take this one step further, raising the requisite funds for the album’s production and release via artist-centric online tool Pledgemusic.

Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove of itself has been many years in the making, predating Judy Sucks a Lemon… with the 2004 single ‘Topknot’ – a firm favourite of the late John Peel. The track also saw the duo’s first collaboration with Punjabi folk singer Bubbley Kaur, a Preston housewife who embellishes every track on Cornershop…with an enchanting voice that belies her previous lack of recording experience and unfamiliarity with many forms of western pop (including Cornershop’s own back catalogue).

 

Cornershop (Left to Right): Singh, Kaur and Ayers

‘Topknot’, a laidback groove that mixes smooth guitar work with upbeat Punjabi melodies, is unfortunately a rare moment of joy on an otherwise largely disappointing release. Peppered with the hip-hop and beat-driven themes that permeate earlier albums such as the acclaimed When I was Born for the 7th Time, Singh and Ayres channel more than just a little Odelay-era Beck through their breaks + six-string productions. Opener ‘United Provinces of India’ pairs a thin production with a tiresome Tumbi riff, while the descending march and funk bass of ‘Natch’ fail to collaborate effectively with one of Kaur’s subtler moments.

There are flashes of intrigue, however, mainly serving to accentuate the failed potential of the project. The piano-led groove of ‘The Biro Pen’ is a toe tapping Eastern rocker, while the initial baroque tweeness of ‘Double Decker Eyelashes’ gives way to a slow-paced meditation with sufficient space to highlight Kaur’s way with a tune.

Cornershop have been quietly producing interesting, fun and socio-political music for almost two decades now, and it’s a genuine shame that they appear to be running out of steam. Cornershop and the…is no dramatic fall from grace, more an indifferent sigh, albeit one retaining hope for a collaboration that could yet bare fruit.

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