Cornershop : Handcream For A Generation

Londoners’ soulful psychedelic excursion. Join them...

Of course, you’re no dummy. You already know what NME thinks of
Cornershop‘s first album since 1997. The verdict’s there at

the bottom of the page in brackets.

So, where did it go wrong for Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres?

How could they’ve improved ‘Handcream..’ enough to garner

the top mark that so much of this ray of home studio

sunshine deserves? Two marks (and yes, reviewing is

this scientific) are deducted for these individual

aberrations: firstly, we’re not buying ‘Music Plus 1’

or ‘London Radar”s excursions on their version of Daft

Punk, even though they’re better than Daft Punk. They

reek of filler. Secondly, ‘Spectral Mornings” 14 minutes of

sitar zoning seems a swizz. They recently performed a

24 hour mix of it on their website. Why skimp for posterity?

Otherwise, this is indeed magic handcream. Applied

at anytime and it lifts the soul with a joyful

infusion of psychedelic thinking and brilliant

rhythmic cross-genre filching. It is good-time

music with a message beyond just having a good

time – two musical responsibilities long abdicated

by British alternative groups. Within its hour

lifetime it keenly explores more musical avenues

and makes more telling social comment than any of
Cornershop‘s contemporaries have managed in the

four years since ‘When I Was Born For The 7th Time’,

the pair’s last outing.

It is delivered, too, with the care and loving

attention to detail of true, obsessive fans of

everything they translate. Thus, the terrific

opening soul stew funk of ‘Heavy Soup’ bounds into

view enthusiastically fronted by veteran soul crooner

Otis Clay; ‘Motion The 11’ is the heartiest, tastiest

70s reggae DJ slop served since reggae went digital;

and ‘Spectral Mornings’ (Noel G’s on guitar) and

‘Sounds Super Recordings’ are expertly constructed

from twin signals last beamed out from hip London

and happening Bombay circa 1969.

Yet there’s a warmth and diversity of styles on

‘Handcream…’ that prevents it ever seeming like

a museum piece, even more so when accompanied by

Tjinder’s wry, singular vocal commentaries. He

rallies against cheesy rock stars on the electric

boogie of ‘Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III’

(Guigsy’s on bass!), implores people to use the stage

meaningfully on the sublime summertime rock ‘Staging

The Plaguing Of the Raised Platform’, connects the

dancefloor to revolutionary action on ‘People Power’,

and infuses the lo-fi hip hop of ‘Wogs Will Walk’

with a look to the future via his past.

‘Handcream…’ doesn’t try to bludgeon you with

a message. It tickles you with it. This is

happy music for hard times, a ray of warm and

righteous sunshine just when it was needed most.

Ted Kessler