Sneaker Pimps

Sneaker Pimps burst onto the British music scene in 1994 as the successor to childhood friends Chris Corner and Liam Howe’s trip-hop project, F.R.I.S.K. Inviting lead singer Kelli Ali into the fold alongside an array of supporting musicians, the Hartlepool-based trio soon piqued the interest of Virgin Records. Their debut album, Becoming X, arrived in 1996. Incorporating elements of pop and rock into beguiling broken-beat sonics, it proved to be an international success, reaching #27 in the UK and later achieving gold certification thanks to a run of well-received singles in the wake of the album’s release. Aided by a remix from Nellee Hooper, “6 Underground” reached #15 in the UK and #45 on the US Billboard Hot 100, going on to have an enduring legacy. Follow-up “Spin Spin Sugar” enjoyed fleeting chart success, as did the LP’s final single, “Post-Modern Sleaze”. In 1998, the group shared the remix album Becoming Remixed, which included a dark garage interpretation of “Spin Spin Sugar” from superstar DJ Armand Van Helden and a reimagining of “Post-Modern Sleaze” by Roni Size’s pioneering drum and bass collective, Reprazent. Fearing the prospect of conforming to the female-fronted trip-hop sound of their contemporaries, the group subsequently let go of Ali, with Corner assuming the role of lead vocalist and their music taking a darker turn. Dissatisfied with their new direction, Virgin dropped them, and they returned to F.R.I.S.K’s former label, Clean Up Records, to release Splinter in 1999. Peaking at number 80, the LP signalled the group’s commercial decline, with their third album, 2002’s Bloodsport, failing to chart. Following an illustrious two decades for Howe as an individual, in which he has worked with the likes of Adele, Lana Del Rey and FKA twigs, the group announced in 2016 that they had reunited and begun work on a fourth Sneaker Pimps LP.

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