Friday, 6 June 2008

We Started Nothing

I first saw the Ting Tings, comprising Manchester duo Katie White and Jules De Martino, on TV playing at Glastonbury last year and thought them worth a second glance. It was the reverse White Stripes set-up of a male drummer and female singer/guitarist that got my attention (perhaps they should have been the ‘Black Spots’?) So instead of Meg White on drums we have Jules De Martino and in the Jack White role of Vocals and Guitar we have Katie White – what is about the White surname, is it Musicians Union sponsored?

Apart from the gender/instrument reversal we also have a distinct difference in style. The Ting Tings replace The White Stripes’ earnest grungy blues/rock with a brand of almost superficial Indie/dance/pop that seems quite popular at the moment – witness a similar output from CSS. Now, after the fabulous single ‘Great DJ’ comes their first proper album ‘We Started Nothing’, a copy of which arrived with the post recently and a rather mixed bag it has turned out to be.

There seems to be a trend back towards shorter albums again after the excesses encouraged by the bigger capacity available on a CD and this one clocks in at around 37 minutes, which to my mind is about right. It contains 10 slices of perky dance pop, about 5 of which are quite irresistible and is the epitome of good feelgood pop. Let’s be clear here, despite the critical panning some quarters have given this album, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with disposable pop music provided it is enjoyable. The problems here are not to do with style but to do with the fact that outside of the really great 5 songs there are a few too many that become a tad tedious after repeated listens and the remainder of the album which is neither one thing nor the other.

Generally, given the self imposed limitations of a duo with only a guitar and a drum kit at their disposal, the album does manage to convey a number of styles and tempos but by blatantly cheating with the judicious introduction of bass, keyboards and some tasteful overdubs the limits of their sound have been successfully expanded. But still there remains the poor material.

The real worry about the Ting Tings is that they are being hyped mercilessly by the media and will probably drown in it. Whilst this album is for at least part of it, a fun listen, it is not the best thing since sliced bread and we should keep a bit of perspective here. It’s basically half a great album. Let’s leave them alone and see what comes next before beating the ‘next big thing’ drum.

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