Release Date: Mar 13, 2012
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Alternative Dance
"Should have been a lawyer," barks Katie White on the Ting Tings' second album. She certainly knows how to argue her case. In 2008, the English duo emerged as international stars with sassy punk- pop rants like "That's Not My Name." Here, the band again is at its best when White is proclaiming ("I'm gonna paint my face like the Guggenheim!") and dissing ("Liar, liar/Your words expire") in a voice pitched somewhere between cheerleader, rapper and Tourette's sufferer.
Four years would normally be a long time for a band like the Ting Tings to wait between albums, but they didn't disappear entirely: two of the biggest hits from We Started Nothing, "Great DJ" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go," were still used in commercials and soundtracks years after their debut's release, suggesting a remarkable endurance for their bright and brassy new-new wave. But if We Started Nothing was the Ting Tings' cry for attention, Sounds from Nowheresville finds the duo at a loss for what to do once they got it. The scrappy pop of their first album is largely gone, replaced by a glossy eclecticism that, for better or worse, feels labored over.
Most bands are haunted by a fear of failure, unable to tell if they are climbing a mountain or falling down the other side. But having bonded over rejection from the music biz in the first place, [a]The Ting Tings[/a] are crippled by a fear of success. The way they tell it, the long, long gestation period of this second set left them unsure of their identity.
The Ting TingsSounds From Nowheresville[Columbia; 2012]By Toby McCarron; April 12, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGMany will know The Ting Tings as premium advertisement / montage fodder, off the back of their repetitive teenage bubble-gum pop hits "That’s Not My Name" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go" way back in 2008. Those two basic catchy tracks reverberating tirelessly on commercial radio sounded fun and different compared to some of the more polished chart-topping dross at first, but soon became infuriatingly monotonous as lead singer Katie White’s pleas to remember her name bore deep down into the public consciousness, likely causing many to throw their car stereos into the road. It was quite easy not to take The Ting Tings seriously; most of their debut album We Started Nothing was clearly aimed at the tween demographic providing down to earth yet very basic social commentary on relationships and other less hard hitting topics like dancing.
There’s reason to be skeptical of uber-stylized music like that of The Ting Tings. With its ubiquity and slick sounds, it’s as if English dance-pop duo Jules de Martino and Katie White’s music is ready-made for Urban Outfitters, a runway, or a fashion boutique atmosphere. On its surface, The Ting Tings’ music seems ephemeral, fun, and… not much else, right? That shoe fits the dance floor-ready tunes on the duo’s 2008 debut, We Started Nothing.
The Ting Tings' second album starts out promisingly enough with the pretty drone pop of Silence, which sounds like a more electronic Spiritualized. Too bad things go to shit immediately after on Hit Me Down Sonny, which sounds like Sleigh Bells if you cut out all the menace and sonic inventiveness that make them interesting. Doing lame imitations of other things that are popular seems to be the mission statement for Sounds From Nowhere Nowheresville.
The Ting Tings are a noisy, exuberant and highly accomplished boy/girl band, at least so on their first CD release in 2008, We Started Nothing. That disc did, in fact, start something—to the tune of about two million sold. The title track is six-plus minutes—perhaps too long by a third—of mildly snarling and yet sweet vocals and ragged and repetitious one-note guitars.
There's a particular type of complaint that you'll inevitably find in the comments section under a negative review; the sort that defensively whines at the reviewer that "it's not meant for you" or "you didn't give it a fair chance". While it's tempting to engage with such arguments, to point out that any professional (or amateur) critic worth their salt is doing their job precisely because they love music/films/whatever and that they desperately want to be surprised, or at least entertained by anything they have to write about, truthfully sometimes the naysayers are right. Even before pushing play some cases will be seen as hopeless causes, suitable for nothing more than making an amusing, but easy, target for a good kicking.
Four tracks into Sounds from Nowheresville comes Give It Back, a song that appears to describe the torturous gestation of the Ting Tings' second album. "This could have been perfection, but we had a little sense," sings Katie White. "So we started all again." That is the story the duo recently told the Observer. Halfway through recording a dance-inspired follow-up to their 2m-selling debut We Started Nothing, they said, they completely wiped the album, replacing it with the 30 minutes of music here.
The petulant sneer that gave the Ting Tings’ hit singles “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s Not My Name” their charms escalates into a full-bore temper tantrum on the duo’s sophomore album, Sounds for Nowheresville. And like most temper tantrums, it all amounts to a great deal of bluster for bluster’s sake and becomes tiresome almost instantly. Pop music can support a good deal of brattiness when its hooks are strong, but the Ting Tings have cobbled together a set of tuneless, inert songs here that can’t be salvaged by simply copping an attitude.
If you've spent any time near a television over the past few years, chances are you may have heard the Ting Tings. Their song "Shut Up and Let Me Go" appeared on an iPod commercial in 2008 and last year in the UK "That's Not My Name" trailed numerous sponsored ads for "The X-Factor". Their music is highly effective in these short bursts, competing with all sorts of other sensory noise in a game of who can be the loudest.
Considering the rush to pan this slab, one would think the Tings had debuted with Abbey Road and answered with Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. For fuck's sake, they're a pop band. Sure, they busted out of the paddock with commercial gold: hooky, Elastica-cum-cheer-squad hits "Great DJ," "That's Not My Name," and "Shut Up and Let Me Go." But Brit crits' squawks of artsy pretense just ring petty.
It’s no Klaxons catastrophe, but this second set is a so-so return on four years’ work. Jaime Gill 2012 If you plotted hopes for The Ting Tings’ second album on a graph, the result would be a drawn-out, four-year nosedive. After the boisterous, day-glo brilliance of their 2008 debut, We Started Nothing, the odd-couple duo seemed like one of UK pop’s brightest prospects.
Four years since chart success ‘We Started Nothing’ and the Ting Ting’s have been rather busy. They signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label, partied in Berlin and culled album ‘Kunst’ (German for art) because single ‘Hands’ came 29th in the UK singles chart. Just when it couldn’t get any worse, disaster strikes. Their second album ‘Sounds From Nowheresville’ leaks online and drummer Jules De Martino urges label Columbia to release it a month early as a result.
This review originally ran in AP 285. The Ting Tings’ long-awaited sophomore album is aptly named: Although 2008’s We Started Nothing brimmed with flirty cheerleader chants and punky disco-rock rhythms, Sounds From Nowheresville is all over the map. Seriously, the U.K. duo dabble in a different style on every song—from cheeky ’80s hip-hop (the streetwise, Beastie Boys-esque “Hang It Up”) and sassy electro-rock (“Give It Back”) to girl-group cooing (“Guggenheim”) and reggae-pop (“Soul Killing”).
Four years is a long time in anybody's book but in pop terms it might as well be forever. Stopping to consider how far 2008 seems now one is immediately struck by the how the whole political, economic and cultural landscape has shifted. George W. Bush was still in office, Gordon Brown dithered in his and The Ting Tings were scoring hit singles.