Cornershop, the West Midland's finest Indian-influenced indie band have returned with another collaborative effort with Urban Turban - The Singhles Club. Originating as a singles project sent out to subscribing fans and taking in guests from all walks of musical life, they have produced a typically strong record that sounds as varied as the guests themselves but is still unquestionably their own.
The opening track of any album is always hugely important and with "What Did The Hippie Have In His Bag" Cornershop set their stall out early. An almost spoken-word approach by bandleader Tjinder Singh combined with backing vocals from Castle Hill Primary School provides a fun yet hugely surreal listen. A selection of up-tempo grooves combined with entertainingly questionable lyrics... "A dragon that was half Welsh, with footsteps that went... Squelch" proving that the sublime and the ridiculous are never far away from one another.
What follows is a hugely varied set of tracks, the obvious influence of the guests making for a unique listening experience. The casual listener expecting to hear an album filled with Brimful of Asha-esque tunes will be surprised by the band's evolution. Very little of that remains in Urban Turban, although a scarily similar riff makes an appearance on "Something Makes You Feel Like" featuring French singer SoKo. The tunes with a marked Eastern vibe provide the strongest amongst all of the collaborations, from the groove of "Who's Gonna Lite It Up" to Rajwant's outstanding vocal performance on "Beacon Radio 303".
Between the standout tracks however, the songs between have a tendency to roll into one another, almost lacking a purposeful sense of direction. Fortunately, the highlights rise suitably above the rest so that by the time a curious reprise of the opening track heralds the album's end followed by three minutes of ambient electronic in the curiously titled "The Last Wog On The Moon", serving as Urban Turban's closing track the filler is all but forgotten.
The eclectic mix of contributors and sounds explored on the album gives Urban Turban an almost Gorillaz-esque feel and while the sheer number of collaborations threatens a lack of cohesiveness and flow, the underpinning tracks are unmistakably Cornershop. While the album is a natural progression from previous collaborative effort Cornershop and the Double 'O' Groove of Bubbley Kaur, Urban Turban serves as proof that the early Brimful of Asha filled days of Cornershop are long gone. Here in 2012 the band are an entirely different prospect and with Urban Turban, they have gifted listeners an inventive fifty-minute journey of catchy hooks and inventive guest performances.
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