Sneaker Pimps
Becoming X


3.5
great

Review

by Marko Polovina USER (90 Reviews)
April 8th, 2009 | 41 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Sneaker Pimp’s debut offers alluring transformations that ping-pong between various atmospheres.

Sneaker Pimp’s ‘Becoming X’ immediately intertwines you within its spacious production sound and distinct British vocalist Kellie Dayton (also known as Ali Kelli). Interestingly enough Dayton’s only appearance with this band would be with their debut, as she was asked to leave after ‘Becoming X’. What strikes ‘Becoming X’ is it’s sheer energy, albeit not suffocating or extremely quick, but compared to other trip-hop bands that were just getting started at the time – ‘Becoming X’ inhibits a cool, sleek production that creates a fantastic catchy atmosphere, along with a vocalist that has the pop talents to boot. Unlike most early trip-hop groups, most notably Massive Attack, the Sneaker Pimps do not garner towards the hip-hop apparatus as you would think. Instead, it would only be warranted to compare them towards Portishead for their sheer attitude in the lyrical content, but the Sneaker Pimps take an entirely different approach from their counterparts. They choose to concentrate on guitar and drums while adding various acoustic instruments, electronic vibes, and dub noises. ‘Becoming X’ seems to be an album ahead of its time considering how young the genre was. Only 2 years later would we see Massive Attack’s superb attempt at electronic offerings and electric guitar with outstanding results. For a debut album in a growing community of trip-hop bands the Sneaker Pimps start ahead of the curve.

The beginning of ‘Becoming X’ would only be described as a variation of pop hooks with driving guitars such as “Low Place Like Home” and “Tesko Suicide”. Other tracks seem to take a page out of Portishead’s book with “6 Underground” and “Spin Spin Sugar”. The Sneaker Pimp’s debut offers alluring transformations that ping-pong between various atmospheres. Heavy introductions of dub, more traditionally downtempo trip-hop style of drum oriented songs, along a more diverse catalog of instruments such as violin and various guitars. It should be noted that Dayton wasn’t the person behind the lyrical content. The bleak demeanors of all lyrically, instrumentally, and in all atmospheric aspects belong to Chris Corner and Liam Howe. Many of these songs bring a dim feeling even if Dayton’s voice would seem uplifting both the atmospheres and the lyrics that she sings are depressing, not nearly as dark as Portishead, but you immediately feel where the album is headed through the intro song.

From all the praise I give this album it would only be fair to state the problems that stem with the diversity that the instruments bring. “Roll On” is really bogged down by a subpar beat and what would sound like a bored Kellie Dayton. Even if the song rolls on…(heh) for 4 and half minutes it just doesn’t work well with its constant drum beat and hints of guitar throughout the song; a interesting riff enters the track as it nears the 4 minute mark and only makes me wonder why is it overlong and there in the first place. Previously the album didn’t rely on heavy, long riffs to sustain the track, but “Roll On” feels completely lopsided towards the end. “Wasted Early Sunday Morning” again tries to create an atmosphere with an out of place acoustic guitar as it shifts between the more dark traditional beats of the first half of the album. What would seem to be the problem with ‘Becoming X’ is either the use of Dayton’s lyrical talents with the instrument placements or atmospheres along her voice. It comes as no surprise as the Sneaker Pimps try to stretch this aspect through the album it only gets more tiresome and boring. Thus, we have an average second half that cannot keep up with an excellent first half of music.

‘Becoming X’ is a great starting point for the Sneaker Pimps’s career, but would ultimately fade out soon after. ‘Becoming X’ starts amazingly effective with its tone, atmosphere, and vocal standing; unfortunately its second half will be a bit of a letdown for most. The Sneaker Pimps would go on without Dayton as she would eventually lead a successful solo career bridging the various aspects of music she would begin with here with her career. The Sneaker Pimps themselves would go on to release 2 other albums with substantially less success with Dayton. ‘Becoming X’ stands as their best work as they take a cue from their critically acclaimed trip-hop artists such as Portishead’s lyrical onslaught and Tricky’s dark submerged atmospheres.



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user ratings (82)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MassiveAttack
April 8th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this review as I was having difficulty describing some of the transitions the band tried to incorporate as the album goes on. Not to mention its been like 2 weeks since my last review...too much NHL 09 lol. Either way, I really enjoyed this album felt extremely fun and catchy. I recommend to trip-hop lovers.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
April 8th 2009


4950 Comments


i used to listen to this all the time when i was like 11/12. this was one of the only cds my older brother had that i liked.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2009


17215 Comments


I havent listened to this since i was a kid. 6 Underground is so chill.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

MassiveAttack
April 8th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It really glues on you from the opening track, but it falls towards the end. Bit disappointing because you start to become addicted by track 6.

gaslightanthem
April 8th 2009


5209 Comments


good review as usual dude

Willie
Moderator
April 8th 2009


16016 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I've never heard this, but now I want to. Good review.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

MassiveAttack
April 8th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good to know! I really felt like this was an excellent blend of Portishead and Tricky's usual dark work. You could replace the Tricky reference with Massive Attack's Mezzanine-era if you like, either would suit.

Willie
Moderator
April 8th 2009


16016 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I only like Tricky's debut and his sophomore album (to a much lesser extent), so I'll replace it with Massive Attack references ;)

This Message Edited On 04.08.09

MassiveAttack
April 8th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol yea he goes downhill after Maxinquaye (you can't blame him though it was superb). I liked his last album though, 'Knowle West Boy' was solid.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2009


20857 Comments


Ok, so you don’t think this is as good as Tricky, Portishead & Massive Attack, but is it more or less accessible?

Good review as always Ivan Ljubjob. One nit-pick, if you are going to bother mentioning that someone has “been asked to leave“ a band, you may as well state why. My money is on her being caught listening to Robbie Williams or something like that.

Hyperbore
April 9th 2009


856 Comments


It's probably the most accessible trip-hop album, apart from the first half of 'Mezzanine,' due to its heavy pop emphasis.

Album's good; I find 'Splinter' to be their best album, although this one has the best stand-alone songs.

MassiveAttack
April 9th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I find this a lot more accessible than Portishead and Tricky. Massive Attack's Mezzanine is pretty easy to get into. Davey CHOOSE one already ya lazy bastard! I'm not exactly sure, but I'd assume its for a new direction since Corner wanted to handle the vocals for their next albums. And thanks for the comment Russell Crowe.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2009


20857 Comments


Everyone knows Russell Crowe is really a New Zealender. Unless he wins an award... Then he is an Aussie.

Yeah, I'm lazy. But since you didn't mention this band last time around (from memory), then I thought I might ask. As it turns out, lucky I did.

MassiveAttack
April 9th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol alright. I demand you check out Massive Attack's Mezzanine album in all its glory. You must. I implore you. I'm done.

Also I just recently started listening to these fellows so I couldn't really say much. The albums I previously suggested are all hailed as classics towards trip-hop, for good reason.

This Message Edited On 04.09.09This Message Edited On 04.09.09

Epilogue
April 9th 2009


1591 Comments


Bloodsport is still a great album after all this time...Been meaning to get this too though.

Willie
Moderator
April 9th 2009


16016 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Damn, I have heard these guys before. They used to play "6 Underground" all the time on 91x (in San Diego). I just gave this album another listen to refresh my memory and this is really good.

MassiveAttack
April 11th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm a bit late on this comment, but I'm glad I was able to remind of those good times lol.

beans
July 21st 2009


2332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

heard 6 underground on the radio the other day and it tripped me out on these guys again, downloading this album as of right now, been a long time since i listened to anything off this other than that song. so this should be good.

Willie
Moderator
July 22nd 2009


16016 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, it turns out that this whole thing is good (I only ever heard the one song before reading the review).

feav233
October 20th 2009


1411 Comments


good review, just acquired this album and it is pretty good, definitely see the similarities with Portishead



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