Not like that’d make any difference though. Recorded through stints in Paris, Berlin and Mercia, the Mancunian duo wrote their second LP as a ‘playlist album’ aiming to create less coherence, and more of a ‘party feel.’ Here they attempt to be neither a ‘hip, indie band’ nor a ‘mainstream, pop act.’ And that’s how it feels. It’s the sound of band stuck in the middle of nowhere mindlessly aiming for every direction possible.
Where would the Ting Tings be without the odd catchy tune? Take ‘Guggenheim’ or ‘Hang it Up’ which could both easily reach the heights of ‘Shut Up and Let Me Go’ or ‘That’s Not My Name.’ The latter infectiously borrows everything from ‘Licensed to Ill’ era Beastie Boys to ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’s drum beat. ‘Give it Back’s opening promises MJ’s ‘Beat It’ but sugar coats the Kills’ ‘Sour Cherry’ instead and it, erm, actually works.
These moments are few and far between however and much of the album either grates or bores. ‘One by One’ combines a raved up ‘Under Pressure’ with Kasabian’s Re-Wired’ but lacks any real explosiveness. Katie White’s repetitive yelping on the dull ‘Help’ irritates more than a buffering podcast whilst her rap about “Ticking those boxes,” and making off “Like Speedy Gonzales,” provides the records most abrasive moment.
Whilst a Ting Tings album might expectedly end with fireworks, ‘Nowheresville’ finishes on a whimper. Closing track ‘In Your Life’ could almost be as cool as a Nancy Sinatra sound tracked Tarantino flick if it didn’t end up like a filler instead. Four years would provide ample time for the duo to produce an album potentially as half decent as ‘We Started Nothing.’ That’s not the case here and you have to wonder what they’ve exactly been doing during these years. As a result, we’d rather be anywhere than nowhere.