Rated | Alphabetical
| Highest Rated 2006
In A Funk
Cornershop: Handcream for a Generation
Posted: May 7,
Cornershop's 1997 breakthrough release, When I Was Born For The 7th
Time, promised a bright future for the London-based Anglo-Punjabi
alternative pop quintet. Instead of building on that promise, guitarist Ben
Ayres and chief arranger/lyricist Tjinder Singh shelved Cornershop in favor
of Clinton, a politically minded dance outfit that ultimately produced
2000's interesting (if thematically conflicted) Disco and the Halfway to
Discontent -- a fun record underlain with a quasi-socialist groove and
noncommittal "take the party into the streets" mentality.
So the arrival of Handcream for a Generation, the official follow
up to When I Was Born, promised a return to the cool cultural stew
that made Cornershop so appealing and unique. Unfortunately, Handcream
is more akin to Clinton than Cornershop, extending the discontent felt on
Disco, vainly attempting to cloak its bitterness in a feel-good
summertime vibe. The most obvious example comes in the rehashing of Disco's
leadoff track, "People Power in the Disco Hour," repackaged here as a
peppier, more danceable cut that fails to shake the brooding apprehension
that permeates its funky beat.
"Heavy Soup" opens the disc with veteran Memphis soul man Otis Clay
announcing the album's cuts as if Handcream were some future
retrospective of hits that never were: Cornershop touring the Miami Beach
club circuit, circa 2020. "Staging The Plaguing Of The Raised Platform"
juices things up with a funky guitar and some of Tjinder Singh's most
intriguing vocals, aided by a children's chorus that counterbalances the
weariness in Singh's voice.
"Lessons Learned From Rocky 1 To Rocky III" embodies the record's darker,
more cynical lyrical bent. Whereas When I Was Born had a fuzzy,
optimistic warmth (as evidenced by infectious pop cuts like "Brimful of
Asha" and the warm country groove of "Good to Be on the Road Back Home"),
"Lessons" bitches about the "overgrown supershit" dominating the current
state of club and dance music, as if Singh can't understand how the scene
has passed him by in a mere five years. "Music Plus 1," with its muted
vocals and droning beat, and the laconic funk of "Wogs Will Walk," only
reinforce Singh's sense of apathy and bafflement. The worlds of indie rock,
trip hop and electronica he once considered hip has been relegated to the
back rooms of clubs, with no room for his ironic, bemused insights..
On the upside, "Motion The 11" (a Jamaican-tinged number featuring Jack
Wilson and Kojak of the Nazarites) and the monumental, near fifteen-minute
long "Spectral Mornings" (with Sheema Mukherjee on sitar and Oasis' Liam
Gallagher on guitar) lift Handcream from its self-inflicted doldrums.
Tjinder Singh is clearly a talented voice in the world of pop music and
it's obvious he has interesting and vital things to say. Hopefully, with
Handcream, he's gotten enough vitriol out of his system so that he can
get back to concentrating on his strengths: Crafting culturally diverse
music that incorporates the best of today's electronica beats with an
engaging sense of melody.
design copyright © 2001-2011 Shaking Through.net. All original artwork,
photography and text used on this site is the sole copyright of the respective creator(s)/author(s). Reprinting, reposting, or citing any of the original
content appearing on this site without the written consent of Shaking
Through.net is strictly forbidden.