Sneaker Pimps — currently founding members Liam Howe (production) and Chris Corner (guitar, vocals) with newly recruited Simonne Jones (vocals) — can trace their origins back to their formation in Hartlepool, UK back in 1994: The act’s initial lineup of Howe, Corner, Kelli Ali (née Dayton), Joe Wilson and Dave Westlake quickly established themselves as one of the pioneers of trip hop with their critically applauded and commercially successful, full-length debut, 1996’s Becoming X, which featured their signature track “6 Underground.”
Ali left the band after the release of Becoming X. Corner took over on vocal duties and the band went on to release two more albums, 1999’s Splinter and 2002’s Bloodsport. Wilson and Westlake left the band in 2002. Shortly after, Sneaker Pimps’ founding members made a mutual decision to explore other creative avenues: Corner and Howe went on to their own highly successful individual ventures in music and film, collaborating with the likes of Gary Numan, Lana del Rey and others with IAMX (Corner) and AMP (Howe). During their initial seven-year run, Sneaker Pimps had five UK Top 40 singles — the aforementioned “Six Underground,” “Spin Spin Sugar,” “Low Five,” and “Bloodsport.”
Sneaker Pimps’ founding members, who are currently split between London and Los Angeles ended a lengthy 14 year hiatus back in 2016 with hints of new music. Since then, the act’s fans have been desperately waiting for new material. Five years have passed but earlier this year Howe and Corner announced that they’d be releasing a new album, their highly anticipated fourth album, Squaring the Circle on September 10, 2021. Last month, Corner and Howe, along with their newest member, vocalist Simonne Jones released a double single of album material, “Squaring the Circle” and “Fighter.”
“After 18 years of dormancy and deliberation we (Sneaker Pimps) are releasing not one, but two new tracks,” Sneaker Pimps’ Liam Howe said in press notes. “‘Fighter’ is a plea for courage and strength against prevailing mental health crises. ‘Squaring the Circle’ (via Nietzsche) is a heartfelt ode to eternal returns of love, in the face of desperate adversity. Contrasting in nature, hopefully these songs describe the diversity and essence of the new album.
“It’s taken many years and many false starts to get Sneaker Pimps back in the game,” Sneaker Pimps’ Chris Corner said on Twitter. “Sometimes [you] need to back the fuck off and let the universe take control. I’m proud and relieved to say that it is finally happening. We officially have new music.”
Album title track “Squaring the Circle” is a yearning duet between Corner and Jones centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement of twinkling piano, atmospheric electronics and layered backing vocals. Sonically, the track is a decided departure from their commercially successful initial run with the cinematic track reminding me quite a bit of Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp. “Fighter” finds the legendary trip hop pioneers crafting a remarkably contemporary sound centered around wobbling synth arpeggios, skittering beats paired with Jones’ sultry vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. While clearly being wildly different, the tracks are thematically related with both tracks being tales of survival — in desperate and uncertain times.
Interestingly, in the lead up to the act’s highly-anticipated fourth album, the members of Sneaker Pimps released a remix to “Fighter,” done by the band’s co-founder Liam Howe, under APE MINK PRESS, a.k.a. AMP. The remix is packed with a dizzying array of subtle sonic references and hints including krautrock grooves, shimmering synth arpeggios, chiming Japanese-like percussion and more while retaining Jones’ sultry vocal turn and the song’s rousingly anthemic hook.
“Here is the first ever Ape Mink Press remix. It’s a journey through Krautrock to Synthwave; via the genius of Japan and the splendour of early Ultravox,” Sneaker Pimps’ Liam Howe says in press notes. “It sets out to track the influences of Sneaker Pimps and creates an historical vignette of their origins. At the same time there are modern influences aplenty.”
Additionally, Sneaker Pimps announced a digital pre-release listening event through Moment House on September 8, 2021 at 11:00am PST/2:00pm EST to celebrate the album’s release. The limited event will include an advance stream of the album in its entirety, and a chance to chat live with the band about their new album. An upgraded ticket is also available that will allow a select number of fans into a live video Q+A session with Corner, Howe and Jones after the album stream. Along with the album preview and the chats, attendees will be treated to exclusive downloads and the chance to win a Squaring The Circle merch bundle. More info is available here: https://www.momenthouse.com/sneakerpimps