Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Cornershop: Handcream for a Generation [Beggars Banquet, 2002]
Like Paris-born Catalonian Manu Chao, Punjabi Londoner Tjinder Singh comes to the idea of world music naturally. Mining primitive disco the way Chao does secondhand ska, he isn't a rhythm animal out to beat the world down so much as a laid-back guy who'll be happy to show us the way to better times as long as he doesn't have to work too hard, since better times mean not working too hard. There are even fewer true songs here than on the breakthrough album he dropped five years ago now, and like Manu Chao he favors the reprise. But I love his commonsense grooves--the Memphis bottom and cheesy keyb for honorary compere Otis Clay, the guitar vamp on "Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III" matching the B-3 on "Wogs Will Walk." Mood music, maybe. How to be conscious and happy at the same time. A