This review was submitted by Philip Lickley. If you would like to contribute reviews and opinions to All-Noise, email us at [email protected]
The Ting Tings – Sounds From Nowheresville
Buy Sounds From Nowheresville
Coming in at a lightweight thirty-four minutes from ten tracks, this is the second album from the Manchester duo. Now, I do remember not being that impressed by their debut. Having enjoyed ‘Great DJ’, ‘That’s Not My Name’, ‘Shut Up And Let Me Go’ and ‘Be The One’ as singles I found the album to be built around these four tunes with little else that really stood out, though in fairness four such catchy singles is not to be sniffed at. I am pleased, however, to report that their second is actually a better sounding album if not one that has clear stand out singles that their first long play had.
Definitely an arty album, both in musical production and in cover graphic design, it benefits from some very interesting and conceptual song layouts but struggles with few major stand-out tracks and the album suffers from the exclusion of ‘Hands’, their excellent album-bridging single that should have been given a place here.
Opener ‘Silence’ is a minimal track lyrically, one that is all about the music, which is a top composition with Katie’s dreamy vocals added on top and is an effective and gradual introduction to the album and could be certainly called epic with its aural cacophony of noises and sets the tone for the artistic production of the piece, even if the music can become a tad bit repetitive.
Follow up ‘Hit Me Down, Sonny’ is a highlight of the album with its Christmas-y bells that remind me of the opening of a television programme but the comparison escapes me. With intriguing Mexican influences and references to Speedy Gonzalez, the song is another showcase for Katie’s almost rap-like delivery including some questionable rap-like rhyming, but Jules’ exciting drumming is also prevalent.
Lead single ‘Hang It Up’ continues the album and gleefully steals the opening from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and, though I was initially unimpressed with this song as a single, it is a grower with its catchy beat, bridge and chorus, though its use of repetition is not quite as effective as in ‘That’s Not My Name’ from their previous release. The rap-style is a nice change of direction though, but it doesn’t quite stack up to their cuts from We Started Nothing.
With a nod to Pink’s ‘U and Ur Hand’, ‘Give It Back’ is opened by Jules’ vocals, not represented much on the album vocally, mixed in soon with Katie’s. Once more built around a repetitive chorus, it is much heavier on the guitar which works well with the catchy clapping but, like opener ‘Silence’, the vocals soon get overpowered by the heavy music production.
‘Guggenheim’ is very much the wildcard of the album and my least favourite, relying on Katie speaking the lyrics for much of its duration outside of the sonic chorus. In the style of ‘Rapper’s Delight’ it’s a pleasant enough track but I’ve never been much of a fan of musical monologues.
Thankfully the album takes a steep rise in quality from this point with the excellent ‘Soul Killing’, hopefully the second single. Definitely the only track I’ve heard where a squeaking chair gets incorporated into the song’s riff, it’s mix of music, sound effects and vocal layering works very well even if times Katie once more falls back on speaking rather than singing. With a well placed nod towards ska music, this is my favourite track on the album, just ahead of the follower ‘One By One’ which is a thick-synth-led ‘Pet Shop Boy’-esque ballad that continues the quality part of the album, and the chorus works really well with channels complimenting each other rather than competing. It’s a very enjoyable track to hear thanks to the mix of drums, synth and multi-layered vocals.
‘Day To Day’ is a much more ballad-focussed continuation of the album and really grows on you as the track progresses, but it’s a slight dip as we reach the conclusion. ‘Help’ is similar to ‘Silence’ in that it’s very much about the music with limited lyrics. Building from guitar before becoming more synthy, this is again more about the artistic feel than necessarily the hooks.
Closer ‘In Your Life’ benefits from an emotional, classical-like cello line that helps this track pull on the heart-strings, but it’s a very melancholic way to end an album and not as satisfying as I would like.
Sounds From Nowheresville is appropriately titled as it is about the overall sound rather than being ‘Songs From Nowheresville’. Very interestingly produced, it has some stand-out tracks but will not fare as well, I fear, in the singles charts as their debut. A very aural-focussed album is only spoilt at times by some over-production and masking of the vocals, and too much speaking from Katie rather than singing, but I enjoyed it more as an album than their first even if the album is greater than the sum of its parts and will struggle when chopped up in this decade’s download market.