British pop institution Cornershop released their new album England is a Garden back in March, and as always it is a delightfully blended mix of musical influences from all over the world transmuted into a potent concoction that evokes a summer of long evenings, good food and endless laughter. Of course, this all happened before we were shackled to the inside, and now England is a Garden seems like a bit of a taunt – or maybe that’s if you’re just a grouch.
One of the highlights from the record is the centrepiece “Highly Amplified”, a irresistible and lightly spiritual jaunt through feelings of bliss, even while the world around is falling apart. It’s the kind of song that seems perfect for these times, reminding us that all things will pass.
Cornershop’s Tijinder Singh tells us about the video for “Highly Amplified”:
“It envisages the results if Cornershop were to make a video game, turning a few things on their head from the gaming norm. Instead of dying, characters are given sustenance, vitamins rehydration, and ventilators. It is also in keeping with nature, and is peppered with clues to the Cornershop back catalogue, most simply exampled by the Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast err lemon. The song itself depicts the self isolation world we see outside our window, with lyrics like “hells deep & the world is sinking in 5ths if native brass”, and the last line of punjabi translation states, “go thoughtfully, stay thoughtful” with a hope that nature will not crush us, as we are all just ladybirds on a leaf.“
Watch the video for “Highly Amplified” below, and read a Q&A with Tijinder about Cornershop’s new record England is a Garden beneath.
England Is A Garden was many years in the making – is there something extra special or detailed about this one compared to the previous?
It took a long time yes. There is something X-special in that we needed this album to go into the cabbage patch and save all of our other albums before it. Our career was at an end, and that’s one of the reasons we spent time on it. As this album has ramped up a resurgence into our past catalogue, we think the job was done – even though we are surprised.
The record maintains a very sunny/summery outlook, which is furthered in the videos, was that a conscious or unconscious choice?
When we were on Luaka Bop records, it got on David Byrne’s nerves that whatever song we did it was naturally upbeat. I tend not to like dark songs, so we fight Kali with major chords and a skip in our step, and going back to the first question with things to prove, as we feel we are always put back to square one after every release, and that’s something that gets on my nerves.
Cornershop have always combined a lot of different musical influences, but were there any new ones you discovered in the making of England Is A Garden?
There was one found near the fountain area, and James Endeacott discovered it. That it has a strain of British Folk music throughout, and this informed the album’s title.
What were the non-musical influences on this album?
I tend to take influence from anything and everything. Whether it’s from places I like or not. There was a hint of looking back at the years especially to the starting up years which were just joyous to have gone through, every day was different and exciting. It’s made me the happiest wog in the world.
How are you coping with lockdown, generally?
Staying in as much as possible, with my family & keeping busy so as not to think too much about it, as that would lead to madness. I think the Tories have handled it really badly, with no testing there can be no grip on the matter, and so the end game is going to be drawn out in further unnecessary deaths. It’s not good to wish death upon someone but this Prime Minister has certainly put it upon manifold others, and it was surreal to see him at his time of being at St Thomas’s aided in conversation by Ian Duncan Smith, a man I consider has also helped people along to hell before death. But generally I keep my nose clean.
How do you feel about the irony of calling the record England Is A Garden given that we’re not allowed out to enjoy it right now – especially as the weather has been so glorious!
The title England Is A Garden is quite pertinent in that it asks if it is garden, then what type of garden do we want for ourselves. It seems we have a lot more time to think about that than we envisaged, but do we want a garden that is ill-resourced, unplanned, against nature and for the 1%ers, or do we want it so that we may all promenade in a peace of mind.
Cornershop’s new album England is a Garden is out now on Ample Play Records.