Review Summary: The Sneaker Pimp’s debut offers alluring transformations that ping-pong between various atmospheres.
1 of 1 thought this review was well written
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.