Cornershop's sophomore effort, "When I Was Born For the 7th Time", is the kind of record that, if it had taken itself seriously at all, could have easily been an abysmal failure. Instead, it's self-effacing charm and lacksadaisical whimsy make it a near masterpiece. Mixing traditional Indian instruments, hip-hop beats, and straightforward pop, bandleader Tjinder Singh manages to create something that doesn't really belong to any category, one of those rare records that is a universe unto itself.
Sounding weirdly like cult oddball Julian Cope (a personal hero of mine) in both his vocals and his themes, Singh's voice is a perfect complement to the music, smooth but distinctive. Even the sprawling, loop-laden "What is Happening?" and the spoken-word piece "When the Light Appears Boy" with vocals performed by the late Allen Ginsberg (normally the kind of tracks that makes me reach for the fast forward button) hold their own special charm.
All in all, "When I Was Born For the 7th Time" is an outstanding sophomore effort from a band that seemed so unsure of itself on its debut. Let's hope the "Indian Tobacco," which clearly played a large role in the recording sessions for this disc, continues to provide cosmic inspiration.