Becoming X

Sneaker Pimps

Cleanup Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Some bands are destined to release only one album that captures the mainstream's attention. And then... poof.

On paper, Sneaker Pimps seem to be that sort of band. In 1996, when the mainstream music environment was a lot more accepting than today, Sneaker Pimps dropped Becoming X to an audience that was just warming up to trip-hop and electronica. The Sneaker Pimps were named after a phrase used by the Beastie Boys in reference to a guy who tirelessly searched for rare athletic shoes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The term perfectly describes the Pimps: the band subtlely thieved the sounds of some earlier pioneers, such as Massive Attack and Beastie Boys' label-mates Luscious Jackson. However, the Sneaker Pimps were able to tweak the formula just enough to make it their own. And in the music world, a little tweaking is all you need. Hell, the accessibility of Becoming X, combined with its true-to-form experimentation is downright admirable.

It helps that the band had Kelli Dayton's voice, which could turn a sweating, steaming dance floor to ice. Her cool, detached delivery helped make songs like "6 Underground" and "Spin Spin Sugar" dance floor hits. The songs are so enduring that they can even be heard on some dance floors today, a remarkable feat beings that most club songs have a half-life comparable to an opened container of milk left out for days.

It also helps that keyboardist Liam Howe and guitarist Chris Corner provide the memorable beats to Becoming X. Their work makes the album go down easy, even though it's probably as healthy as McDonalds. The banal, pro-girl lyrics to "Tesko Suicide" are on par with Spice Girls at their artistic peak, but the studio craft is so right-on that you don't care.

Not that all of Becoming X is sunny. Far from it. "Spin Spin Sugar" still sounds sinister after hundreds of listens and "Wasted Early Sunday Morning" pretty much sums up what it sounds like.

Other bands came before Sneaker Pimps. You can chide them for their apparent lack of originality. However, few bands have been able to make a trip-hop album as near-perfect as Becoming X. Light on lyrics, easy on the ears, but can still burn the dance floor, the Sneaker Pimps created a delicious footnote with this release. If you're intimidated with the genre, this album is a good place to start.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cleanup Records, and is used for informational purposes only.