Justin Vernon’s third Bon Iver album is a weird and wonderful thing
The Ting Tings
We Started Nothing
So have The Ting Tings justified the froth-mouthed hype with their debut album? Well, the already familiar songs, including the aforementioned pair, have lost none of their impact. De Martino’s songwriting expertise (he used to pen tunes for George Michael as well as TKO, the unsigned girl group White was in before the two morphed into Manchester trio Dear Eskiimo) is given a shopping mall feel by White’s delighted yelps, like Girls Aloud gone Warhol.
If they could keep the standards as Everest-high as this throughout, we’d be listening to the greatest pile of pop since Madonna’s ‘Immaculate Collection’. And it’s this that makes the drastic plummet in quality between ‘We Started Nothing’’s stand-out treats all the more startling. If you plotted this record track-by-track on a graph, you’d have a diagram spikier than Vlad The Impaler’s back garden. ‘Fruit Machine’, for example, is already a mammoth step down from ‘That’s Not My Name’, being little more than a bendy guitar riff stretched into a song, but the following ‘Traffic Light’ is woeful. A slow, plinky-plonky ditty characterised by childish sound effects, it sounds like something that didn’t quite make the Rugrats Movie soundtrack. Then – woah! – back up again for ‘Shut Up And Let Me Go’, its presence on the new iPod advert not dimming the impact of its shuddering Jackson Five bassline. Then – screech! – another huge dip for the irritating pogo beeps of ‘Keep Your Head’. Then up, up, up again, with ‘Impacilla Carpisung’’s sassy electronic swishes, delighting so much they could happily nestle in a Gorillaz nest unnoticed. Up, down, up, down… it tarnishes the band’s undeniable quality, like unwittingly swigging a mug of cold instant coffee while still panting after the best sex of your life.
De Martino and White are on an unashamed mission to make perfect pop, but seem to have treaded the path too literally. Like Kylie, Leona et al they’ve made an album with searing melodic highs but dumped Xeroxed efforts in the troughs between them. They’ve never suggested releasing an album was more of a priority than a necessity, but their volcano-hot songs have been toiled over at the expense of true depth. Still, ‘We Started Nothing’? Not at all – this is the beginning of something wonderful. There’s just lots more to do.
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