by: Jason Radford
Note: This post was originally featured on the Chicago Phoenix and was republished with permission. You can read the original here.
Musicians Katie White and Jules de Martino of the Ting Tings stopped dead in their tracks soon before their would-be sophomore effort Sounds From Nowheresville was dropped back in 2010. Apparently, what they had made sounded dangerously common and fell right in line with what was on the radio at the time. So they delayed the album’s release until now, putting two years of extra handiwork into the album. They ended up scrapping half of it and keeping the rest.
Two more years later, in 2012, it seems the entire movement has moved on without them. A collection of lively sounds that made The Ting Tings fun and fresh have since aged and wilted away.
Nevertheless, they still fight hard for whatever they can salvage. The British rocking duo charges head first into the album with the energy they might’ve been looking forward to channeling when they initially set to release their new album. “Silence” starts off the amped-up set with a crescendo into a vocal that’ll make people want to dance.
In second song “Hit Me Up Sonny,” vocalist White performs choruses in the characteristically careless yell she coined in “That’s Not My Name” four years ago. It comes back around later in other spots like “Guggenheim,” but even the most reminiscent noises can’t convince every listener that this album is as good as the previous one.
To put it simply, if you didn’t like The Ting Tings before, Sounds From Nowheresville won’t turn you into a fan. It’s the same band with the same style as we heard in 2008 in We Started Nothing. Yes, the band stayed true to their definitive indie pop quailties but does no effort to convince new listeners to give them a chance. If anything, some parts of Sounds From Nowheresvillefocus on what old fans loved and others revel in what critics despised.
“Soul Killing,” for example, sounds like it had been pulled straight from ‘08’sWe Started Nothing. Its electronic sounds paired with sexy hi-hat drum beats pull together the comfortably familiar sound that made The Ting Tings known in the first place. It’s the toned down 2012 follow-up to “Shut Up And Let Me Go,” if that provides an accurate audiovisual.
But why tone down a contemporary British classic? Not far into We Started Nothing’s followup, there’s a noticeable struggle in finding a median energy. This persists throughout the album. Between four whole years and a whole bunch of scattered ideas, it must not have been easy to find some middle ground between old and new, quiet and quick. After track number seven, the tone shifts and the beat slows so abruptly that there’s no time to catch your bearings. In any album, consistency is key. This is where the seams completely bust open and let out whatever provided any filling.
Unfortunately for The Ting Tings, between “One By One” and “Day To Day,” their album busts open and turns into some slow R&B wallow that makes barely any sense. The worst part is that the final three songs on Sounds From Nowheresville aren’t particularly bad. They’re just so startling and unexpected that they’re almost unwelcome at that point. Had they been introduced more early on or dispersed evenly throughout, they could add a healthy and cool dynamic to the compilation. But since the final three songs scoot in at such a strange point in the set, they escort a quick slope downward toward the album’s finish. It’s a shame, because the album got off to a promising start.
Jason Radford is a writer and art student living in the Lakeview neighborhood. He enjoys being an active part of the LGBT community. Plus he really digs music. Pop and indie tunes are his favorite genres.