Album Review: The Ting Tings – Sounds from Nowheresville
Whether it was in enjoyment or annoyance, it was hard to ignore The Ting Tings in 2008. Their terminally catchy hits ‘Thats Not My Name’ and ‘Shut Up and Let Me Go’ dominated the charts, the radio and most memorably, the subconscious of all who heard them. After making an understated return over winter with the album’s lead single ‘Hang It Up’, The Ting Tings have failed to ignite the same response that their debut managed but the real question lies in whether the music has deteriorated as much as the acclaim.
A fair few reviews have slaughtered the album and whilst the points are often valid, the one-star ratings certainly aren’t. Granted, it isn’t quite worthy of the four year wait that tarnished it with the curse of anticipation and expectation, but it has quite a few moments of greatness. The glorious crescendo in ‘Hang It Up’ is more than welcome, as is the stunning ‘Help’ – arguably the most impassioned performance on the record. ‘Soul Killing’ harks back to ‘We Started Nothing’ and the summery goodness of ‘Day To Day’ sounds like something lifted from the latest Aniston chick flick.
The standout track here is ‘Hands’, (from the Deluxe edition) the single lifted from the sophomore album that never was. Whilst the track, along with ‘One by One’, marks a distinctly electronic feel, it shows the duo at their best. The electro path might not have been successful in their eyes, but it would’ve been good to hear what they were concocting for the ghost-record that is ‘Kunst’.
The problem with ‘Sounds from Nowheresville’ though, is that the tracks don’t go far enough. The melody in ‘Hit Me Down Sonny’ is addictive and begs for an all-guns-blazing finale that doesn’t happen. Similarly, the interesting ‘Guggenheim’ whimpers out a chorus when it should be bellowing whilst the brooding ‘In Your Life’ brings the album to a close on a sentimental note with a gorgeous cello accompanying some of Katie’s best vocals; once again though, the haunting atmosphere falls short and it feels that the admittedly enjoyable track could be something breathtaking if given a chance.
So the frosty reception is warranted in some ways and exaggerated in others. There isn’t anything here as addictive as ‘Great DJ’ or ‘Thats Not My Name’ but chart-bothering isn’t something they have much interest in anyway. As a collection of tracks, ‘Sounds from Nowheresville’ provides some of The Ting Tings’ best yet (Silence, Hands) as well as a few near misses. The curse of the second album hit the duo hard, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel now they’ve confidently discovered that hook-laden indie pop is their field of choice. Sorry, electro.
Words: Simon McMurdo