We Started Nothing

The Ting Tings

Columbia, 2008


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


The list reads like this: The Flying Lizards, Haysi Fantaysee, Altered Images, Voice Of The Beehive, Toni Basil, The Go-Go’s, The Cardigans, even Franz Ferdinand. These are just some of the influences to be found all over We Started Nothing, the debut album by the UK duo known as The Ting Tings. We Started Nothing is certainly an apropos title, since this release owes a deep bow of gratitude to all the ‘80s acts who paved the road for its surprising success.

I, for one, am thrilled that the ‘80s sound seems to be making a comeback. Listen to Top 40 radio these days and you hear virtually every female artist clamoring for what is essentially the same song that has the new wave/techno treatment. “Womanizer” by Britney Spears, “So What” by Pink, “Hot ’N Cold” by Katy Perry, “Keeps Getting Better” by Christina Aguilera, and yep, the Ting Tings’ tomahawk slice, “Shut Up And Let Me Go.” Sure, a little more variation would be nice, but compared to what else has been played in the course of the last fifteen years, I’ll take it!my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Lead singer Katie White can sound like a petulant, spoiled brat at times, but her cheeky defiance is kinda fun and refreshing if you think about it. Jules De Martino keeps things grounded with a solid rhythm section and some clever hooks to keep the pop world spinning. Think of these two as a sunnier, much happier version of another male/female duo attempting to move up into the public consciousness, The Kills. Coincidentally, music by both acts can be heard on the CW television series Gossip Girl -- a great place where you can hear fresh and new music by relatively unknown artists.

Sure to be a follow-up hit, “That’s Not My Name” is just as infectious as “Shut Up,” yet it has more meat on its bones to salivate over. The sweet ballad “Traffic Light” had me kicking myself, since I had an idea to write a song just like it a few weeks ago -- where I equate myself and my two friends to the colors on the a traffic light (I’m the yellow). Both “Great DJ” and “Fruit Machine” have already been indie singles and help to start the album off in the most percolating way possible. Ending the album is an entirely different story, however. “Impacilla Carpisung” is the Ting Tings’ vain attempt at aping Japan’s Pizzicato Five, while the title track suffers from Katie singing in an entirely wrong register. It’s unfortunate, too, since that track has such a great musical vibe to it, even throwing a horn section in for good measure.

As their first crack at it, the Ting Tings probably couldn’t have done any better. Consider this the party album of the year. Be sure to make me proud and play it for all of your friends on New Year’s Eve. 2009 is going to be a year to remember.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.