The trip-hop trio Sneaker Pimps formed in 1995 in Reading, England, following the success of Portishead's Dummy and Tricky's Maxinquaye. Borrowing heavily from Portishead and Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps pursued a trancelike but edgy sound, highlighted by Kelli Dayton's soulful vocals. While Dayton was the focal point, guitarist Chris Corner and keyboardist Liam Howe emerged as the band's leaders, writing all of the songs and producing the records. Howe and Corner had been playing in bands since the early '90s, albeit to no success. After seeing Dayton sing with a pub band in 1995, they convinced her to join the fledgling Sneaker Pimps, who had taken their name from an article the Beastie Boys published in their Grand Royal magazine about a man they hired to track down classic sneakers.
Sneaker Pimps released their first single, "Tesko Suicide," in May 1996, and it was greeted with positive reviews in the U.K. music press. Becoming X, the group's debut, followed in August and became a critical success, with Q magazine naming it one of the best albums of the year. The album went gold in Britain and also enjoyed a warm reception in America, where the singles "Spin Spin Sugar" and "6 Underground" charted well. A remix album followed in early 1998, but by the time of the follow-up, Splinter, Dayton had left the group; most of the vocals were taken by Corner. Though Splinter wasn't released in America, 2002's Bloodsport earned a release on Tommy Boy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine