May 6, 2015 The Ting Tings – Super Critical (Album Review)
Formed in 2007, in Manchester, England, by Katie White (vocals/guitars/keyboards) and Jules De Martino (vocals/drums/guitar/bass/keyboards), The Ting Tings have three full-length albums on their sleeves: We Started Nothing (2008), Sounds from Nowheresville (2012), and the latest offering, Super Critical, unleashed in October 27, 2014. Roughly six years into their career, the English duo has accomplished early on what other artists might have taken twice that period of time to achieve. Remarkably, We Started Nothing hit number one on the U.K. Albums Chart soon after its release, with the carrier single, “That’s Not My Name,” topping the Singles Chart as well. The next chart-topper, “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” was subsequently used in an advertisement for an Apple product, further expanding the popularity of The Ting Tings and cementing their infectious style of music on the wall of familiarity of listeners who have a penchant for Pop and Dance music with quirky New Wave sensibilities. Based on the sonic aesthetics of albums one and two, the music of The Ting Tings may be best characterized by the frenetically upbeat tempos of the songs, sing-along choruses that may pass as cheering chants, sharpness and sheen of the guitars, bouncy basslines, and rhythms that could induce handclapping and footstomping. A few more songs from the first two albums that best represent these characteristics are “Great DJ,” “Keep Your Head,” “Be the One,” “Hang It Up,” and “Give It Back.” The Ting Tings’ New Wave/Indie Pop sensibilities in their first two albums belong in the same league as The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat,” Toni Basil “Mickey,”, The Flirts “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime,” Josie Cotton “Johnny, Are You Queer?,” Republica “Ready to Go,” and Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl.”
Like its predecessors, Super Critical, The Ting Tings’ third and latest, is a jukebox full of uplifting tunes teeming with simple yet assertive lyrics glossed with the usual catchiness of the Pop end of the New Wave spectrum. However, in contrast, it has the added value of Soul and Funk, Chic-style. Yes, one remarkable quality that set Super Critical apart from the previous albums was the obvious infusion of Funk elements—rhythmic guitar strumming and bass slapping. Most likely, Andy Taylor’s being the producer of the album had something to do with this added funkiness. The erstwhile guitar player of Duran Duran (as well as his former bandmate John Taylor) was the concocter of the Funk and Soul flavor in the music of their classic band, Duran Duran. And this Taylor connection might have fortified White and De Martino’s predilection to rhythmic funkiness and bounciness, which in fairness was already apparent in their music since the beginning, albeit in minimal servings. Super Critical opens with the title track, whose dance floor Funk may immediately be felt. The style flows seamlessly into the more guitar-oriented “Daughter.” “Do It Again” is glazed with Disco, coupled with the soulfulness and sexiness of the vocals. Ironically, “Wrong Club” is another surefire dance-club hit—what with the pesky spring-like bassline and the metronomic cowbells. Belonging also to the dance floor, but this time only when the lights begin to dim—“Wabi Sabi,” a slow R&B ballad reminiscent of Spice Girls’ “2 Become 1.” The next three tracks, “Only Love,” “Communication,” and “Green Poison,” are a comfy return into the primary funky mood of the album, with the latter song’s sounding like a nod to George Michael’s sexy, leather-clad Pop. The album then closes appropriately with “Failure,” whose spell-out gimmick in the chorus reminds the listener that The Ting Tings’ music is meant not only for the dance floor but also for stadium sing-along and crowd cheering.
Super Critical is The Ting Tings in their poppiest and funkiest best. The album is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and at just over thirty minutes in running time, it seems to zip by rather quickly. CrypticRock gives Super Critical 4 out of 5 stars.