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Album Review: The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing

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Before there is any sort of review of any sort of album by The Ting Tings, let’s get the coverage of the iPod song out of the way. “Shut Up and Let Me Go” is track five and used to sell people Apple products. Now, there are some people who hear a song in a commercial and love it if it appeals to them. Good for them, God Bless America! Go Capitalism! On the other hand, there are those that have undoubtedly heard this song and were repulsed. They hate songs being used in commercials, they hate Apple, and they hate their lives, whatever. Here’s the ting though (pun intended), “Shut Up and Let Me Go” is a solid song on a solid album by a somewhat exciting new band. So please, if you are one of these angry young people who just can’t handle well-marketed, electronic products, please chill out and just select DO NOT DOWNLOAD on your BitTorrent program. Heed my advice though and don’t miss a pretty good album because of your hang-ups.

We Started Nothing is the debut album from The Ting Tings and like seemingly every new group, they too are a two-member band. Jules De Martino does all the heavy lifting, while Katie White does the whole lead singer thing. Both of these Brits were actually in the music industry before forming The Ting Tings and like anyone who has come within spitting distance of the music industry, the two left jaded and disenfranchised with the business. But shockingly they went and started a band to do whatever they wanted to do and even more shockingly they seemingly wanted to start a pop band.

Yes, you read correctly. We Started Nothing is a pop album through and through; it is like a gigantic British joke. The Ting Tings basically threw British music of the past decade onto an album. Katie White has the voice voted most likely to be the most British thing you hear on an album this year. The title of the album is an inside joke about the band, about how there is nothing new here. The letters on the album cover even harkens back to Never Mind the Bollocks (which is all the rage with the kids now).

As stated above, “Shut Up and Let Me Go” is a solid song, but the great thing is that it isn’t even the best song on the album by anyone’s standard. “That’s Not My Name” is a known club hit in England. It features a high school drumbeat through most of the song, mixed with lyrics that are a rallying cry against stupid men who can’t remember names of the women they meet. There is a nice little bridge in the middle where White shows her vocal range with some soft singing that complement the upbeat tempo of the rest of the song.

“Great DJ” is also one of the stronger songs on the album. With highly repetitive vocal work that essentially map out a good DJ set, any kid sitting on his laptop making loops and beats should enjoy this one on a post-modern level. Also, the song starts off the album letting you know just how funny The Ting Tings know they are.  “Fruit Machine” is the first time the album hits you as just being nonsensically British. It has simple keyboard sample work, stock guitar sounds and the vocal repetitions that are hallmarks of any UK Top 40 hit of the last five years.

“Traffic Light” is a peculiar track, and can be summed up as the “Lily Allen deleted track”. Of course, Lily Allen can be a good time, but anyone familiar with her debut album knows there are a few real soft pop ballads on there that could have been omitted, just like “Traffic Light” could have been. “We Walk”, although near the end of the album, is actually a hidden gem that shines from good bass lines, interesting synthesizer sounds underneath, and some very intriguing vocal work by De Martino and White.  As for the rest of the tracks, they range from mediocre to sounding like The Dandy Warhols. In fact, the title track sounds like a missing song off Welcome to the Monkey House.

Overall, the album is a solid debut effort. Pop seems to be a bad word nowadays (even though it’s everywhere) but The Ting Tings are in on the whole joke, so they deserve credit for that. As for comparing it to efforts by bands that are trying edgier things, it falls a little flat. Basically, this is a great summer album with a few memorable songs, a little filler, and a song anyone will recognize. In other words, a pretty fun listen.

Oh, before I forget, ting ting means “cute, little penis” in Japanese.

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