Review Summary: English dude-chick duo makes Bring It On without all the pictures; sound ironically like
American blondes. Jeez, can Apple do ANYTHING?
Cheerleaders confuse me.
They're shrill. They bathe in makeup. They kind of
move. And they tend to scream things that 5 minutes after the game are completely insignificant. And even though they're not really saying anything, they seem to find some way to enjoy it all, revel in it, even. But just think
for a moment what would possibly happen if those damn cheer girls learned how to play guitar.
Now imagine if they actually managed to sound kind of good
. Or, at least like they knew what they were doing.
The Ting Tings, an English indie combo of Jules De Martino and Katie White, propelled to fame with their shout-along single "Shut Up and Let Me Go", an agressively peppy tune where it's better off being dumped, enjoyable, even ("I ain't freakin'! I ain't fakin' this!"). Once they got the Apple seal of approval, being featured in one of their dizzying silhouetted iPod commericals, it posed an interesting question: could you indeed make an entire album out of cheers ("That's not my name!", "Ka! Ching! Ka-Ching!", "We walk!", "Ah-ah-ahh-ah!"), let alone by a English band with virtually no publicity but ONE commercial, and make it work in America" And furthermore, is there anything that Apple can't
Well, in the "I kissed a girl!" generation, you can at least give it a try. The direct answer is We Started Nothing
, an album of the bounciest funky punk pop you'll hear this side of the Atlantic. It isn't all
dancey, but it screams perky from every orifice, specifically from lead singer White, who looks like the anti-girl girl but ironically sounds just like her. From the midtempos to the power chick anthems, it's all exciting stuff that works best when (lead singer) is on repeat in the middle of a catchy chorus, while the beats are all effective collaborations of electric guitar, drums, video game sounds, and other random items. There's "Great DJ", a tambourine-pumped tune about, well, a great DJ. There's the funked-up clap along "Fruit Machine", about, well, being played like a fruit machine, and the midtempo "Keep Your Head", reminiscent of an old Game Boy, and it's about, like, keeping your head. It's a majorally cohesive effort, though "Traffic Light" is slower and actually displays White's voice well. In short, Nothing
comes off as Bring It On meets High School Musical, with a lot less cheese and a bit more punk. Oh, and a lot more talent.
The definitive here, however, is "That's Not My Name", and yes, it's about getting a name wrong, but it's enjoyable and playground charged from the moment it's jump-rope bass starts, and it's as badass and bitchy as cheer girls can get. Lyrically and physically, it's the most well-produced track, 'lyrically' meaning a guilty pleasure in it's simplicity: "They call me her! They call me Jane! That's not my name! That's not my... name!"
But not as many of the other songs settle in your brain quite like this one does, and even if collectively they're all catchy, you find that there isn't much here to sink into, since We Started Nothing
doesn't really stray from its main formula (though it's a well-crafted one). It sits perfectly in between a good listen and great listen: it's not exactly groundbreaking, it's not even deep. But it's a fresh, feel-good album that if it's your style, there's no denying it. It also further pushes the idea of Apple doing to artists what YouTube does to its
celebrities (ahem, Chris Crocker)- makes them famous out of nowhere, and not always with good reason. At least this tme, you get something for Nothing