The infectious and occasionally pensive beats associated with the contemporary drum and bass scene have found their way into the moody yet swoony sound of England’s Sneaker Pimps.
Their music is diverse in that at the moment you think you’ve got a hold on them, some funky tone slips between the beats, and the Bryan Ferry meets Suzanna Hoffs (Bangles) vocalese, pianos, Dr. Dre style gangster drones, familiar New-Wavish synths, or Marvin inspired strings.
They have successfully mixed influences from all of their favorites, the sonic impact is sometimes rocking, sometimes unsettling, but the kaleidoscope of moods loosens its grip, when Birmingham’s Kelli Dayton wraps herself in keyboardist Liam Howe’s art school stylized philoso-lyrics, a dead pan growl, replacing her last hiss.
Guitarist Chris Corner, who had previously worked with Howe on a project called Line Of Flight, an experimental project ultimately seeking to fuse Shirley Bassey with Kraftwerk, is the 80’s freak of the ensemble brought together to record their debut Becoming X, out on Clean Up records (One Little Indian).
His love of the glam side of new wave (Japan, ABC), is the texture that makes the Sneaker Pimps a departure from your average trip hop experience. More than just fills, Chris fills out the tunes with guitar riffs that swirl like an intro to a Black Sabbath song, to rough punky chords that sliver into hammy rock solos (but very rarely). Probably responsible for arranging for Flood, a prodigious 80’s producer to record the record.
Ms. Dayton, who ditched school at age 14, and is the complete opposite of Liam’s art school background still finds it easy to work with his lyrics, translated by the shadowy Ian from transcripts of Liam’s rants, the results can be sublime and explosive. An i-D magazine description of the song ‘Spin Spin Sugar’, as follows “Written in a back garden, pissed, its electro goth loops are spiked with imagery from Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis”, in which a woman is a machine.
It’s Kelli’s red light cabaret which converts this heavy ideology into something you can really dig your nails into. Kelli says, “There’s a difference between feminists who think all men are oppressors, and women who think both sexes are mutually oppressed. I like Spin Spin Sugar because it’s got a sinister edge to it.”
The original Sneaker Pimps are part of the Beastie Boys posse, sent on regular missions to New York to find the hottest shoes in town, so there will be plenty of free fashion hints for us freeloaders as well. I hear a little bit of Stereolab in their music as well, which means that the record will grow on you.
Go to Amazon and buy Becoming X now, since there are probably only a few copies of the original demo floating around out there and you can get a leg up on those who will want to copy it from you. Traveling as a five piece, their show at the Akropolis in Prague was a knockout, the sound in that venue of late has been stellar. – Photos by Jeffree Benet