Like most trip-hop bands, Sneaker Pimps hate being called a ”trip-hop” band. The British dance trio prefer ”postmodern sleaze.” ”It’s the idea that everything’s been done before and all you can do is plagiarize,” says Kelli Dayton, 22, the Pimp’s tiny, brown-eyed singer, unapologetically.
Welcome to the fin de siecle, where young bands figure if everything’s been done before, why try to do anything different? Sneaker Pimps — Dayton, guitarist Chris Comer, 22, and keyboardist Liam Howe, 25 — are the latest in a new crop of dance acts to watch their single climb the charts. ”6 Underground,” a sinister pop tune laced with cheerful acoustic guitar, is at No. 34 on Billboard’s modern-rock chart.
The rest of their debut album, Becoming X, is an amalgam of pop, punk, rock, and drum-and-bass that is often more style than substance. Indeed, more than a few reviewers have sniped that it lacks originality, but perhaps they didn’t catch that postmodern wink.
”Are they saying it’s not original because we’ve heard it before?” Dayton asks. ”We’ve heard everything before!”
”[Our music] is a critique on that as well,” Comer insists. ”We’re aware it’s not absolutely groundbreaking, but there’s not a lot that is these days. I mean, could you name a band that is definitely ’90s?”
How about Tricky and Portishead, to whom Sneaker Pimps are compared for their slow dance beats, dark atmospheres, and psychosexual lyrics? To their credit, Howe and Comer do have a knack for melody that sets them apart.
Dayton says that without new instruments, it’s enough to make something new with the old. ”To say you’ll do anything more is a false promise.” There’s something to be said for a band that promises little and delivers.