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Cornershop - Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast

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Artist: Cornershop

Album: Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast

Label: Ample Play

Review date: Dec. 3, 2009

It’s just gone Summer here in Melbourne, Australia, which means Cornershop’s new record is starting to make a lot of sense. It’s been seven years since their last album, Handcream for a Generation; the intervening time has seen two fabulous singles, “Wop The Groove” and “Topknot,” the latter also remixed by Cavemen, and not much else. It wasn’t the best-timed of career silences, as the kinds of inter-continental and trans-generic crossovers Cornershop were plotting in the 1990s are now close to common law in indie circles – see Vampire Weekend, Dirty Projectors, MIA, Buraka Som Sistema, and so on.

The good news is that Cornershop have picked up where their last ‘big’ singles, “Brimful Of Asha” and “Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III,” left off. The sound for much of Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast is breezy, with the simplest of two-chord post-Velvets vamps tickled by unpredictable flourishes – sitar licks, wobbly analogue synthesizers, sudden bursts of cheeseball choruses (the massed ‘Manchester and Liverpool’ line in “Soul School” always makes me laugh), dub detours, soul grooves, bubbly trumpets and clarinets. This is Cornershop doing Cornershop very well. Tjinder Singh’s vocals are typically deadpan, and his lyrics are full of self-references, cryptic catchphrases, and his usual meta-address of the music industry (see “Who Fingered Rock ‘n’ Roll”).

What’s missing from Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast (and this is a small complaint) is the gentle grace of “Topknot” (and for that matter, the presence of that song’s vocalist, Bubbley Kaur). A quietly rhapsodic slice of Indian pop, this single breathed new life into Cornershop’s objective to blend cultures while avoiding tokenism. It was also the sound of a group exhaling after a number of years as a part-time pop phenomenon, and Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast could have gone farther out and further in this regard.

But I’m quibbling – on songs like the title track, “Soul School,” and “The Roll Off Characteristics Of History In The Making,” with its great line ‘War ain’t nothing but that technical flip-flop,’ not to mention a completely endearing cover of “The Mighty Quinn,” Cornershop turn to pop music as an article of faith and make it good for the summer.

What you’re going to do with it in the Northern Hemisphere though, I can’t really say.

By Jon Dale

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