At least the scrappy pop-incarnation known as The Ting Tings are in on the joke: Sounds from Nowheresville is exactly that. Songs without a point and the hookability of breakout single “That’s Not My Name” – and ones that go, well, nowhere: This is a major come-down from the buzz they created with 2008’s listenable-if-novelty romp We Started Nothing. They started something, but the English alt-rock duo of Katie White and Jules de Martino, in an act of stubborn defiance, pretend none of that ever happened, going for dirty ’90s grunge-pop – and doing it with amateurish aptitude – rather than tapping into the retro awesomeness of their claim to fame. And this was no accident: They scrapped the original version of this album because it sounded too radio. “This could have been perfection, but we had a little sense,” sings White on “Give it Back.” “So we started all again.” So, despite label’s thumbs up, they rebelled with…this? Not much of this frustratingly bad offering sounds mainstream – it’s too demo-like, garage-band sounding for that – and, also, not much of it is any good. Their sound salad starts with the decent lead-in “Silence,” part Portishead, before heading into nine other songs, most of them half-baked, that last a mere 33 minutes. Thank god. Sounds from Nowheresville is a cobbled mess of screaming rants (“Guggenheim”), awful ’80s knock-offs (“One by One”) and Avril Lavigne soft-rockers (“Help”) – a persistent WTF dangling over every one of these poorly mastered and performed songs. Oh, what could’ve been.
Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at www.chris-azzopardi.com.