Cornershop's breakthrough third album, 1997's When I Was Born For The 7th Time, revealed a band capable of absorbing, processing, and re-creating just about any sound thrown its way. Working from a two-pronged platform of pop history and the music of leader Tjinder Singh's Indian heritage, Born made sitars, guitars, turntables, alt-country chanteuse Paula Frazer, Allen Ginsberg, and breakbeats all sound like the base elements of 21st-century soul. With its major statement out of the way, and a few years off for good measure, Cornershop sounds content to relax and have a little fun on the new Handcream For A Generation. Nothing wrong with that, particularly when even a relaxed Cornershop stays so close to its challenging aesthetic. Underappreciated soul man Otis Clay kicks off the festivities on "Heavy Soul," introducing the band—now just Singh and multi-instrumentalist Ben Ayres—as if ushering in the headliners at the end of an underwhelming R&B festival. His measured enthusiasm makes for a droll joke, but doesn't really set the stage for what's to come. "Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III," Handcream's leadoff single and one of the album's standout tracks, captures the spirit well: It's party music with an edge, and celebratory songs for underdogs. Singh's politics stay understated and a bit opaque, but they pop up on almost every track, from the children's-chorus sloganeering of "Staging The Plaguing Of The Raised Platform" through the Rasta affirmations of "Motion The 11." Singh and Ayres' 2000 side project, Clinton, displayed a questionable ability to move the crowd, but they seem to have worked out the kinks since then. A healthy sense of dance-music-inspired adventurism propels much of Handcream, working its way into the epic "Spectral Mornings" (recently remixed as a 24-hour jam on the Cornershop web site) and "People Power," a reconfiguration of Clinton's "People Power In The Disco Hour." Is their forward-looking, backward-leaning idea of politically oriented future-disco really (as the title of Clinton's album promised) a halfway point to a full discontent, or is it closer to the wank promised by Handcream's title? Cornershop never seems convinced either way, but it doesn't let the confusion get in the way of a spirited, unpredictable good time.