The Ting Tings

Sounds From Nowheresville

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. And not just any old hit singles; among the four Top 40 hits culled from debut album We Started Nothing was the ubiquitous Number 1 single, ‘That’s Not My Name’, a song so inescapable that even the former colonies fell for its shouty charms.

So given the duo’s planet-straddling success, why the wait for Sounds From Nowheresville? According to a recent interview, singer Katie White and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Jules de Martino spun the somewhat far-fetched yarn that record label satisfaction – yes, satisfaction, you read that right – with their long-awaited follow-up enraged them to the extent that they felt compelled to wipe the album from existence and start all over again.

The ultimate undoing of most pop bands – and feel free to take your pick; there are dozens to choose from – is the misplaced search for credibility, whatever the hell that is and it’s a pit that The Ting Tings have not only fallen into but dug for themselves. The ominous droning fade in of ‘Silence’ suggests A Very Serious Band Indeed. Not for The Ting Tings an explosion of sound or a suggestion of joy but the portentous groove of a band with a furrowed brow as it considers the weightier matters of the day. Or something.

A little further down the line, The Ting Tings are reduced to self-mythology on ‘Give It Back’. A desperate tactic at best, its attempt at justifying a four-year wait with a stance that sees The Ting Tings biting the hand that feeds feels way too hollow to really ring true.

The problem with The Ting Tings’ posturing and attempted re-positioning is the cardinal mistake made by bands in this position – they’ve forgotten to write any tunes. ‘Hang It Up’ makes a ham-fisted attempt at making the listener feel that they’re about to listen to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ but beyond this three-strum tease is a riffing/rapping mess that makes Sleigh Bells’ new material more interesting than it actually is.

A curious listen, Sounds From Nowheresville is akin to having your memory wiped at exactly the same moment an experience is stored in the brain. The return to the album’s titular town starts here.

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