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. But thanks to singles like the U.K. number one “That’s Not My Name”, the duo has mustered staying power, selling two million copies of Started worldwide.
But do The Ting Tings really have the chops to stick around? In the best moments of their sophomore effort, Sounds from Nowheresville, de Martino and White do; if they play their cards right, they just might go the distance. And Nowheresville is a fine hand, finding some sonic sweet spots to pull from: Depeche Mode on fist pumpers like lead track “Silence” and “One by One”, plus a near-mimic of LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum” groove on “Give It Back”, to name a few highlights.
“Give It Back”, one of the duo’s best songs yet, rivals the killer “What’s My Name” in infectiousness. It’s easily Nowheresville’s best song. Despite any inherent limitations of dance-pop– and nadirs like the dreadfully Natasha Bedingfield-like “Day to Day”– the Ting Tings show a determination to demonstrate a wiser, more learned depth.
The duo did reach further afield for new influences. In Spin last December, de Martino and White cited Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, and Paul’s Boutique as touchstones while recording Nowheresville.
To be clear, nothing’s wrong with stylized (uber- or otherwise) music (Paul’s Boutique was, after all). But it helps when the craft behind the glitz is just as compelling. The Ting Tings have plenty going for them in both regards and a little more in the latter. De Martino and White haven’t hit an equilibrium yet, but at this creative trajectory, they will– and maybe sooner rather than later. After a few listens to the scrappy Nowheresville, it’s hard not to root for them.
Essential Tracks: “Give It Back”, “One by One”, and “Silence”