The Ting Tings are back and feeling frisky. The group’s second album, Sounds From Nowheresville, sees them attack their microphones with a rousing barrage of spiky vocals. Arriving four years after their hit debut We Started Nothing, this record hails the much-anticipated return of the U.K. punk-pop duo’s impudent and lively form of noise making.
If anything characterizes The Ting Tings, it’s that they can pack a punch. On this album, the raucous pair whips up a frenzy of tetchy instrumentals and snappy rhythms that create a bumpy yet robust flow. This feisty groove is helped on by some clever production that enhances certain moments while leaving others gritty and raw. The result is a collection of rambunctious tracks, each complete with an emphatic chorus and a healthy measure of spunk.
Stylistically, the record lends a layer of maturity to what was previously a bare-bones garage sound. While maintaining their choppy, disjoint structures, The Ting Tings have, well, added more tings to their tings. Songs like “Silence” and “Hit Me Down Sonny” mash up unruly guitar chords with clanging bells and marauding drums. Other tracks suggest the duo is diversifying its tones: “Soul Killing” is a catchy piece of new-wave ska that brings to mind a fast-paced, jumped-up version of The Specials.
Yet it’s precisely this diversification that hurts the record in its latter stages. Here The Ting Tings become unexpectedly sentimental, which suits them about as well as a tutu would suit Goliath. The song “Help” serves only to take the sting out of the album, while “In Your Life” is much too slow and out of place. In an otherwise strong release, it’s with tracks like these that The Ting Tings risk losing their edge, and with it their broad appeal.