WHILE THE RECORD industry looks for signs that electronica will live up to its hype as the latest instant pop trend, the real revolution has been long coming, taking baby steps all the way. Don't be fooled: Hardcore rave music won't impact the charts any time soon. Instead, techno-flavored music will ease into our musical culture (as it has for the past decade at least)--through the dilettante-ish likes of U2 and David Bowie, perhaps, but also through likeable young British pop bands such as the Sneaker Pimps and Moloko.
Both groups' debut albums have taken their time getting over here: Sneaker Pimps' Becoming X was released six months ago in the U.K., while Moloko's Do You Like My Tight Sweater? is almost two years old. The delay is not surprising--club music has long held mainstream appeal in England. What's more telling, though--at least in terms of their chances for U.S. success--is both take cues from American groups. The Sneaker Pimps combine standard rock guitar parts with trip hop beats and white-soul vocals; when strumming an acoustic guitar (as on the first single, "6 Underground") the trio is virtually indistinguishable from Luscious Jackson. Moloko, on the other hand, is far too distinctive for easy comparison, though the duo's blend of deep electro-funk groove, club beats, and hip absurdist vocals, along with a brightly colored retro-futurism, comes closest to Deee-Lite.
While both groups use electronica's signifiers--jungle's rattle, trip hop's dark churn, ambient's synth washes--Sneaker Pimps never stray far from the comfy world of the pop song. Becoming X's opener, "Low Place Like Home," is only one step from Alanis, while the rousing closer is as breathy and sunny as the Cardigans. Moloko, though, by flashing a truly loopy attitude with songs as fresh and thrilling as they are instantly catchy, make Tight Sweater one of the best debuts of the year--no matter if it's 1995 or 1997.
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