Released: October 2014
Remember the Ting Tings? They were those guys that did that really annoying song about incorrect naming and that other one in which they told us all to “shut up and let me go”. One would be forgiven for thinking that this Salford duo had heeded their own advice by shutting up and going, but here they are, still knocking around and cooking up some funky beats and groovy melodies on third LP Super Critical. It’s the same setup but something feels a little different. It’s kind of…not that annoying.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some moments on Super Critical that will really jar on the ears of any half-sane music fan; from lead singer Katie White’s failed Debbie Harry impressions on Daughter and Only Love to the typically minimalist guitars that seem to play the exact same squeaky chords, in the exact same style, with the exact same rhythmic pattern on Do It Again and Green Poison. However, the shouty nonsense of Ting Tings past is something that is, for the most part, cast aside for some genuinely soothing melodies and soulful harmonies.
The duo look to disco grooves and beats on many tracks and to hear the instrumentation deviate from the blandness of ’00s indie pop is highly refreshing from an act that made its name whittling down their intelligent peers to their lowest common denominator and packaging it as a kind of sugar-free rock music.
Wabi Sabi has a ballad style to it, the stripped back electronic drums and lingering synths making way for a soft, meandering vocal performance that proves White to have a surprisingly strong voice when she stops talking her way through songs. The backing vocals on the track interweave with her performance and its melancholy tone is a pleasant rest from the high tempo madness of most Ting Tings tracks. The only criticism that comes to mind is, wait for it, it could do with going on for longer. Yeah.
Three LPs in and The Ting Tings have more or less mastered the art of not being head achingly irritating. Now they have to figure out how to stand out without relying on the gimmicks of their earlier work. Super Critical boasts attractive melodies and toe-tap friendly beats, it’s just hard to really invest in the music when it fails to create any kind of depth or stand out from any other dance-pop act. The Ting Tings ever becoming truly relevant in the music world is by no means something you’d put money on, but compared to the Greater Manchester duo’s previous discography this is a serious improvement, and a sign that they’re finally moving in an interesting direction.