The Ting Tings | We Started Nothing (Columbia/Red Ink)

cd_ting-tings.jpgThis one’s for the dance shoes and the late-night excursions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To quote the mighty Borg from Star Trek, resistance is futile. Resistance to British dance-in-your-garage-pop duo The Ting Tings, that is. No matter how many other bands they remind you of, no matter how many songs start off sounding like some hit from yesteryear, there’s something about The Ting Tings’ debut We Started Nothing that simply reels you in, and quickly. Katie White (lead vocals, other instruments) and Jules De Martino (drums, guitar, vocals) are having so much fun on these ten tracks and expending so much energy doing so, that to remain indifferent would only reveal the listener’s chronic uptightness or pointless detachment. What we have here, folks, is exuberant, kick-ass party music.

Most of you will already have heard the single "That’s Not My Name," which blends a "My Sharona"-like riff and the cheerleader-style vocals of Toni Basil’s "Mickey" with a little hip-hop to produce a thoroughly peppy dance track filling the rooms of teenage girls everywhere. Opener "Great DJ" is even better, with a chorus that practically throws you out on the dance floor and demands that you lose all inhibitions. The perky Ms. White aces said chorus, which follows lyrics proclaiming the importance of the DJ in the tension-dissipating scheme of things for clubgoing youngsters: "Imagine all the girls…and the boys/ And the strings/ And the drums," chirps White, grabbing you where it counts with a series of "Ah ah ah"s and "Ee-Ee-Ee"s that are deliciously vowel-centric and endearingly sexy.

Another sturdy dance-floor classic is "Keep Your Head," which would be a good way to measure the age range of patrons in a dance club. Anyone not shakin’ it out on the floor during this’un probably left their 20s behind long ago. The Ting Tings use that classic device, the call and response, to absolutely slay your inhibitions with the phrase "10 minutes to go" (followed by shouts of "And I wanna go home!" and such) delivering the dance-pop goods hook, line and sonic sinker. Sheer exuberance.

There’s a lot of derivative stuff here, of course. "Shut Up and Let Me Go" serves up a Fixx-like tune that pays tribute to the early days of MTV whether intending to or not, and "Be the One" begins with a Devo-like drumbeat before White’s endearingly girly vocal comes in, with just enough weariness and character to make you wanna listen closer. All through the disc, you’ll flash on other female-fronted dance poppers of the past such as Blondie, The Go-Go’s, The Tom Tom Club, et al.

But there are diversions as well. "Traffic Light" almost sounds like a different band, with a melody and sway to it that make it sound like something from a Broadway musical. White sings with extra flair and pizzazz, lending her driving metaphor here ("With all things said, you turn to red/ Don’t you be a traffic light") a bit more sexy sass than you might think possible. And the title track, featuring White’s higher-than-usual pitch and the simplest of VU-style riffs, ends up turning into a horn-laced jam that signals a band willing to go out on a limb at times.

But primarily, this one’s for the dance shoes and the late-night excursions. It delivers quite deliriously at that, and The Ting Tings are self-aware enough to know that even if they’ve Started Nothing in terms of genre innovation, they bring more to the party than most. "It’s how you deal with it when switching off…/ We got the choice if it all goes wrong," they tell us in "We Walk."

So get Ting’d as soon as possible, kids. This record’s better than cheap beer, seeing a therapist or pissing off your BFF with repetitive whining. B+ | Kevin Renick

RIYL: Blondie, the Go Go’s, the best of the ’80s

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