A friend recommended that I buy Becoming X because it closely resembled Portishead, claiming that it would really impress me. I had the highest expectations and hopes for the album as I hurried out to purchase it. However, the album could only disappoint me, since I view Portishead as all that is good in music. The expectations were probably unfair, but as I soon found out, so were the comparisons to Portishead. There are a number of notable tracks on the album, but there are almost an equal amount of tracks that make me regret not snatching that early Everything But the Girl album I had also been looking at.
Becoming X has grown on me, but I still have the tendency to hit the forward button as soon as the midway point of the album arrives. “Post-Modern Sleaze” sounds as if Everlast made an appearance and brought his acoustic guitar along to play over the beats. As a result, The song sticks out like a full set of teeth at a Guns N’ Roses show. If they weren’t trying to be radio friendly before, their painful attempt at it now is nauseating. The vocals become unbearable as she seems to whine over the wanking acoustic guitar that sounds straight out of a Kid Rock “hit.” They seem to veer from what was working and turn a pleasurable record into something that would appeal to trendy 90’s alternative record stations.
The next track, “Waterbaby,” doesn’t help. The song sounds like some leftover from the Marilyn Manson sessions, with her vocals appearing over a distorted “rock god” guitar. My finger quickly hits the forward button once again. “Wasted Early Sunday Morning” and “How Do” retain the acoustic guitar, but it actually works quite nicely here. Her voice adjusts and a little more variety shows up on “How Do.”
Now that I’ve worked out my aggression from the few bad tracks, there’s actually a lot that does work. The quasi-hit “6 Underground” is thankfully found twice on the record. The remix contains more of a hip-hop beat. I find myself listening primarily to tracks 1 – 5, 8, and 11. However, I admit at certain points I make an effort to ignore the vocals and lyrics to concentrate on the electronics and flowing beats. There is an incredible use of keyboards and beats that is similar to Portishead, but only at certain times.
The talent is clearly there, but they don’t make use of it on a large portion of the album. Vocals can bring beauty to a song or they can take away from it. Unfortunately, the vocals that try to be too girlie in some instances harm the dark ambience on a few of the tracks. She has an attractive voice, but it doesn’t fit the mood. I guess I was looking for a softer, more melancholy female voice to flow with the mood. The music found in the first 5 tracks is reminiscent of Massive Attack at certain moments and Bjork at others. Overall, an EP probably would’ve been a better choice for the Sneaker Pimps.
Written by Nolan Shigley.