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“DD Review: Cornershop – England is a Garden.”

Score: 10/10

Now, if I were gonna sit here and tell you the new Cornershop record is GOOD, that it’s not gimmicky, that it draws from a cross-section of Britpop from The Verve back to the post-punk of mid-era XTC, you’d probably have my head, and rightly so, perhaps. The malady is probably confounded by the fact that in essence this band, insofar as they’ve ever mattered at all, has been a really “feel-good” act, this of course manifesting as probably a slightly “sub-feel-good” period in human history.

But those dirty dogs: maybe that’s part of their trick here. That is, if you feel good, God da**, you feel good. Rock and roll always had something of the devil in it. And if your other option is to don an obligatory visage of the tortured and pained and in turn manifest into a clone of Bad Brains, which seems to be the general default at least in America, then maybe your unceremonious joy starts to seem a little less repugnant, or a lot less.

The main thing you need to pull off some heady Britpop is chord progression and Cornershop have it up to the belt of their knickers on opener “St Marie under Canon,” a tune which while catchy and bouncy also purveys a pleasant British sense of the literate, with them modifying the “under” preposition into other permutations at select times in the song. “Slingshot” is more vaguely funky, pleasant and hoppy alt-pop (come to find out this band has been indie all along and was even on a small fry label for their commercial breakout When I Was Born for the 7th Time) [1], its true effervescence bubbling forth in the form of, believe it or not, a RECORDER, that sounds like it’s being played by an Ian Anderson given full production rights of the tune.

On “No Rock Save in Roll,” Cornershop crank it up a bit, not quite imitating Motorhead or anything like that but still jabbing out some decently boisterous bass and rhythm guitar stabs, in the rhythm of about an Electric Warrior-era T. Rex given bolstered 2020 production volume. Elsewhere, we get two instrumentals, one of which is nine seconds long and the other being the title track, and a nine-minute, minimalist-groovin’ closeur “The Holy Name,” lest anybody should suspect this band of settling into stuffy, museum Britpop fare on their 2020’s inauguration.

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[1] And as a general rule the British music industry is way more incisive of otherwise pervasive corporate dominance, with Oasis and Blur also paid by a label that called their own shots on their upward popularity arcs.

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