Ting Tings

  • Ting Tings
  • We Started Nothing (Columbia) 2008 

Some may dismiss the Raveonettes with the argument that, beneath all the noise and echo of their recordings, there’s nothing at the core. Not true. There’s the Ting Tings. The Salford, England-based duo presents all the repetitious pop of the Danish band, but in a clean, polished context. Even the noisier moments on We Started Nothing (such as the crinkly surface sounds on “Traffic Light”) are clearly recorded and close to the ear. Katie White’s vocals recall Toni Basil, alternating between sassy charisma in the verses and cheerleading on the choruses and breaks. In fact, the British chart-topper “That’s Not My Name” is basically a re-write of Basil’s über-nuisance hit “Mickey.” (The quieter moments on the album, such as the lines “Are you calling me darling? / Are you calling me bird?” on “That’s Not My Name,” show that White can sing well when she chooses to.) The Ting Tings navigate a path between indie rock and mainstream pop, and on the best songs here prove that it’s a good route to travel. “Great DJ” encapsulates the whole point: “Nothing but the local DJ / Said he had some songs to play / What went down from this fooling around / Gave hope and a brand-new day.” “Shut Up and Let Me Go” is snappy dance-punk that sounds like Blondie’s “Rapture” without the rap interlude. (White’s sing-speak throughout the song obviates the need for one.) “We Walk” opens with stately, solemn piano, but then kicks in with a crisp dance beat and sprightly percussion. When White and multi-instrumentalist Jules de Martino aren’t so strongly focused on making singles, they sound a lot like early-’80s Cure. Except for White’s voice, “Keep Your Head” and “Be the One” both would have fit well on The Head on the Door. The Ting Tings are a singles band at heart; their best songs get stuck in your head whether you want them to or not. Of course, that repetition comes at a price for any artist. We Started Nothing is a fun album that quickly wears out its welcome.

[Delvin Neugebauer]