Believe it or not, Sneaker Pimps aren’t a rap group!
So a little backstory: Back in the early ’90s there came a type of music from the UK that was slow, provocative, mysterious, and just as dreary as a drizzly afternoon in London. I’m talking about trip-hop, or “the Bristol sound,” which originated from, well, Bristol, with the group Massive Attack (whom I still need to cover one of these days). Anyway, the music caught on on both sides of the pond, other groups followed in the mold, and by ’96 it was the “in” thing to make torpid, downtempo electronica with sultry vocals provided by a dangerous femme fatale, for example, Morcheeba. Some takes on the genre were a bit more accessible, and poppier, hence Sneaker Pimps.
The Pimps’ debut, Becoming X, caught a fair bit attention and acclaim back on release in 1996 and 19 years later, the record still sounds pretty good. The record provides a good dose of intrigue and attitude, and the performances from vocalist Kelli Ali are dope. I still don’t understand why the group booted her out after the first album (hell, Morcheeba too did it with their singer Skye Edwards and it wasn’t a good look), but I digress. The record keeps it interesting, and I’ve gone through several tracks over the years which I’ve on constant repeat.
“Low Place Like Home” is the opener to the record and a helluva introduction to the group, alternating between aloof and terrifying, with seizing, wretched guitars and a woozy, underwater kind of feel which suits Ali’s disinterested and disillusioned vocals pretty nicely. Definitely the type of soundtrack for an irreverent mid-’90s teen comedy / satire that’s too smart for it’s own good.