The Ting Tings - Super Critical
Done with the bratty ADD genre clash of Sounds From Nowheresville, Katie and Jules have settled on a less schizophrenic sound for their third album. Said sound is firmly pop but knows when and where to fit in some considered idiosyncrasies. After the critical bashing they received last time, it's as if they've tried to stop pleasing their fanbase, their most vocal detractors, their label (releasing Super Critical via their very own) and everyone in between, instead doing it their way - and that way turns out to be less 'indie' than We Started Nothing's DIY approach seemed to suggest, the album all the more appealing for being at ease with its 'let's dance' pop nature.
The pair have definitely (like everyone else) gorged themselves on 'Get Lucky' and the recent Niles Rodgers renaissance, because a number of tracks here strut, all polished and knowing, on a 2014 disco dancefloor. Single 'Do It Again', 'Failure' and 'Wrong Club' (the album's best song) all feature shuffling steps and guitar licks from a feverish Saturday night in the '70s, given a spit and polish by the Delorean-riding house band. The car reference is apt, as the duo not only give '80s power-pop a go on 'Only Love' and 'Communication', but also vintage Prince-style funk on the title track and the 'Alphabet St'-riffing 'Green Poison'.
Although the styles can veer, the connective thread (except on wishy-washy midway ballad 'Wabi Sabi') is dance. It's not hard house or anything, but like all the best pop music, this album wants to get you moving. The record was produced in Ibiza with help from Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and mixed in New York directly to analogue tapes, and that says all you kinda need to know about its dance/pop/disco blend. With less yelping, more singing from the appealing Katy, and a stronger sense of craft than earlier hectic works, Super Critical is not going to change your year - but we won't be super hard on it either. And we might even dance around to it in our bedrooms this weekend, yeah?