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Record Review

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What does a band do when its first album (1997's Becoming X) helps launch trip-hop in the U.S. and inspires critics' almost-frenzied praise of the new British wave of electronica? Exile its female singer (Kelli Dayton), lament that she was merely a vapid figurehead and make a lackluster follow-up with keyboardist Liam Howe handling vocals, naturally.

On the patchy but well-intentioned Bloodsport, the long-suffering Pimps return with more samples, beats and female vocals (safely limited to a supporting role). A sporty sonic tribute to Depeche Mode is sullied by obvious metaphors ("Black Sheep"), a throwaway comeuppance for a vaguely rendered harlot ("Small Town Witch") and a muddled paean to Kurt Cobain ("KIRO TV") that blames his suicide on "the price of fame." Another stilted memorial comes in the form of "Loretta Young Silks," which employs the glamour of the Oscar-nominated actress to lambaste someone for being "airbrushed and lifeless."

Still, two tracks show that the Pimps may have some life in them yet. The sinewy computer rhythm of the title track complements Howe's cold realization that "love is just a bloodsport." The instantly appealing "Sick" wonderfully contrasts a springy melody and bass line with a self-deprecating Howe willing to do anything to ensure that his lover won't "get so sick of me." Such coy desperation might've re-established the Pimps' former glory. If only they were that concerned about us being "so sick" of them.



Sneaker Pimps play the Cotton Club Thurs., Dec. 12.

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