The Ting Tings sophomore effort, Sounds from Nowheresville, fails to feel either unique or good at what it does, making it a disappointing musical experience. The album draws influences from so many places that it would better be called Sounds from Everywhere, or Sounds for Nowhere.
The title of Sounds from Nowheresville, like previous album We Started Nothing’s title, projects a very nihilistic feeling. The Ting Tings are not trying to give you something positive, they are trying to complain about the current system. This attitude was really pioneered by early punk groups, and dance-punk revival—which is what the Ting Tings are trying to be and which they accomplished on their first album—should be trying to move past this initial despair. This album doesn’t.
To blanket-ly condemn the album would be wrong though. Some of these beats are enjoyable. Some of the tunes are fun. This album is not totally un-enjoyable, it just suffers as both a whole and in the specific.
The end of the album really makes the listener suffer. “Help” and “In Your Life” are the most depressing tracks, both musically and lyrically. “We are dead and we can’t live without it, don’t wanna think about it,” characterizes the bulk of this album. The violin that screeches at the end, accompanied only by a single, repeated chord and her vocals, makes you want to change albums immediately, but for some reason the album ends with Jules de Martino quietly saying “that one felt good.” This line suggests that there should be some cathartic resolve from wanting to be “everybody else,” but there really just isn’t.
Every track here can be compared to something better. This gets particularly annoying on the second half when the comparisons jump out at the listener. “Hang It Up” tricks you into thinking that it’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and a song can only go downhill from there—unless, you know, it actually is “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” “Guggenheim” sounds like it belongs on the abomination of the decade, Lou Reed and Metallica’s Lulu. “Soul Killing” sounds too Latin-y to avoid comparison to Rodrigo y Gabriela, but thankfully the track with the most positive message (if you ignore the suggestion that sometimes you need to kill the soul) is on the most positive sounding track. “Day to Day” sounded like an attempt at 90s bubblegum pop.
While variety on an album is good and wanted, We Started Nothing filled a niche nicely, while Sounds from Nowheresville sounds like it’s floundering in too many places to be cohesive. Maybe the Ting Tings will find their place again on a future album, but it would be impossible to recommend this album to anyone without reservation that you should be recommending something else. If you liked their first album, you’d do better picking up anything from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs catalog than this.
Rating: W – 1/2
Key Tracks: “Hit Me Down Sonny” and “Soul Killing”
RIYL: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, and the Big Pink
Check Out: “Silence (Bag Raiders Remix)”