A quick look at the ever-reliable Wikipedia suggests it’s been seven years since the last Cornershop album was released; so long, in fact, that the Wiiija label still existed to release it. Around the time of “Handcream For A Generation”, I spent a night with Tjinder and Ben in Madrid, coming back to write a feature for Uncut that, if memory serves, basically argued that this album should do every bit as well as the “Brimful Of Asha”-driven “When I Was Born For The Seventh Time”.
It didn’t, of course, perhaps consolidating Tjinder Singh’s well-developed scepticism towards the music business, and ensuring that Cornershop’s odd and endearing career could perhaps continue at their own pace. After all this time, then, “Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast” finds the band persevering on their own singular path, still pursuing an unselfconscious fusion of celebratory musics from across the planet, then fusing them to sentiments which could possibly be described as oblique, pranksterish grumbling.
Consequently, “Who Fingered Rock’n’Roll?” begins “Judy…” like an ostensible sequel to “Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III”, a gnomic rant about the music biz set to belt-buckle-clutching rock’n’roll, Moog squiggles, sitar fringeing, gospel choruses and a pervading droll exuberance. It sounds a bit like Black Grape, and a whole lot more like Cornershop, another enormously catchy pop song from a band who are masters of the art, when they choose to show it and re-enter the fray.
As with “Handcream…”, there are any number of songs here that are every bit as strong as “Brimful Of Asha” – though unfortunately, you suspect that to a wider public Cornershop have been stereotyped as one-hit wonders, and that the laidback radiance of, say, first single “The Roll Off Characteristics (Of History In The Making)”, with its gently parping horns and its typically complicated way of expressing a “anti-war, pro-people” message, will generally pass unnoticed.
Weirdly, I must admit that this is one of those albums whose immediacy was somehow delayed in hitting me; initially it didn’t catch me in the same way as its predecessors, possibly because it’s easy to have forgotten the rest of the album by the time the final track – “The Turned On Truth (The Truth is Turned On)”, basically “Brimful Of Asha” deconstructed as a fervid, frankly overlong Gospel workout – works out how to stop after about 16 minutes.
Repeated visits, though, have pointed up multiple joys: perfect Cornershop nuggets like “Soul School” and the title track, which reminds me of “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” . The snatches of breaks, dub, disco, electrofunk, crowd screams, bhangra and whatever else that punctuate tracks. And perhaps best of all, Tjinder’s latest psychedelic extrapolation of Punjabi folk, “Free Love”, which apparently has been cut down from 56 to six minutes, and flows on nicely – ecstatically, maybe – from the last album’s “Spectral Mornings” (without Noel Gallagher on board this time, mind).
Terrible cliché, and I’m sure it’s doing something of a disservice to the political content of the album, but “Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast” sounds like a mighty summer record from here. Available from www.cornershop.com – sensibly, I guess, for a band whose relationship to the industry has been often adversarial, they’re doing it themselves this time.