The Ting Tings, comprised of Katie White and Jules De Martino, are one of those bands that critics love to hate. We Started Nothing, their 2008 debut, was trashed for its cheerleader-chant melodies, lack of originality, and misguided acts of rebellion towards the record company. That last complaint was warranted; the other two, not so much.
After all, cheerleader chants weren’t a problem when The Donnas did them, and Katie White pulls them off incredibly well. As for lack of originality, almost every acclaimed band of the past ten years can be criticized for that. Let’s face it: The Ting Tings are signed to Columbia, which means they lack credentials. In the indie world, a band this poppy needs credentials or they’re doomed.
When you really listen to We Started Nothing without thinking of them as an indie group, though, it reveals itself as a catchy and addicting pop album. “Great DJ,” “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” and “That’s Not My Name” were some of the best singles released that year, and the album as a whole was consistent and brilliant. Sounds from Nowheresville, their second album, is just as addicting, and thus the hate continues.
Still, it’s undeniable that The Ting Tings’ rebellious attitude is fake and juvenile. That’s the main reason that Sounds of Nowheresville has been so panned. Apparently, they scrapped a whole album to record this one. The songs they recorded in its place are attacks toward the record company, not unlike a lot of the songs on their first album. If there’s one thing this shows, it’s a lack of artistic integrity. The fact that they’re attacking the very people who put food on their tables in an idiotic attempt to give themselves hipster cred that they will never have definitely makes them contemptible. What it doesn’t make them, however, is untalented.
The first six songs on the album are near-perfect, especially “Hang It Up” and “Give It Back.” The lyrics, of course, are forgettable, but they’re also ignorable. Just listen to the damn music. It’s awesome, and the music keeps everything afloat for more than half the record. Then, it loses some of its luster. “One By One,” the seventh track, is the album’s worst moment, a pretty basic pop song that doesn’t leave much of an impression. The final three tracks are all quite mellow, and give the album a bizarrely slow finish.
Sounds from Nowheresville is not as consistent as We Started Nothing, which was great to the end. Instead, it’s a memorable follow-up, with enough hooks to keep you entertained. It doesn’t really matter that they threw out an album just so spite Columbia. They managed to come up with something listenable in its place and, when the music kicks ass, there’s little reason to complain.