Welcome to your summer guilty pleasure soundtrack. Are so called `important’ indie CDs bogging you down this season in their over-inflated sense of grandeur? Do you need take a break from all your worries, cut loose, foot loose or borrow some other soundtrack sentiment? Or do you just need to escape Chris Martin? The Ting Tings, a Manchester duo who embodies the words `sassy,’ `spunky’ and `fun,’ are invading the states after conquering the singles charts in their beloved English environs.
The truth is, you’ve probably already heard the Ting Tings. If you’re a Brit, you’ve heard them everywhere. But, if you’re an American, you’re heard them in one place specifically, in one of the most groove-tastic iPod ads ever. Unfortunately, it was probably the shortest lived commercial in Apple’s history as Coldplay’s self-indulgent sleep inducing drollery took its place within mere weeks. The Ting Tings ad featured “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” the third official single from We Started Nothing, Katie White and Jules DeMartino’s debut album. This discofied track is so infectious you’d have to wear a hazmat suit to avoid its charms. Katie White’s heavily accented talk/sing vocals will remind some of the recent spate of femmes avec affectations such as Lily Allen, Kate Nash and Amy Winehouse, but White has more Johnny Rotten in her repertoire than the rest. In other words, even though she’s gorgeous, she could probably kick your ass.
As good as “Shut Up and Let Me Go” is, being a big `screw you’ to the record industry, it’s not the only highlight of this agile record. “Great DJ” and “That’s Not My Name” are the first two singles from the record. The former doesn’t quite get going until the chorus, but then it becomes as earwormy as Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” if not more so. The latter also finds its strength in later bars as a repetitive and tribal chant gets help from the sweet refrain of “Are you calling me darling / Are you calling me bird?” and the two blend together harmoniously to make an unforgettable summer single. If you’re a big fan of the party shouts of the Pipettes, rather than their doo-wop harmonies, then you’ll most likely fall in love with the Ting Tings. “Fruit Machine,” previously only a vinyl only single, and “Keep Your Head,” are the perfect examples of this throwback dance party vibe, the latter with a backing track that mimics OMD or “Blue Monday”-era New Order.
“Traffic Light” slows the pace, but does effectively show off the fact that White’s vocals aren’t merely relegated to the brassy shouts and snarly quips throughout most of the record. The second half of the record is a little less brash and little more sugary sweet with songs like “Be the One” mixing Rilo Kiley’s recent pop efforts with early Cardigans confectionery. “We Walk” could easily vie for being the next single release with a later Garbage feel. Although Shirley Manson’s group got a bad rap over the last two albums (from yours truly as well), I must admit that I end up listening to “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” more than any of their other tracks. And that’s probably why I’ll end up listening to the Ting Tings on jogs, road trips or just puttering around the bachelor pad.
The last two tracks are mostly skippable, specifically the title track closer which finds White in an annoying falsetto, but you can easily stop at track eight and have experienced a really fun pop record. When the Ting Tings borrow, and they borrow a lot, they borrow from, if not the best, at least the most catchy and accessible. There might be better-crafted pop records this year, or more avant-garde, or perhaps even more memorable, but I doubt you’ll find a more impetuous or dance-inducing one. This is the type of record that’s so chock full of ear candy, that there’s just no way each and every song won’t be used for commercials, as background for television shows, or in film soundtracks for that big club scene.
Video: “Great DJ”