The third album from Katie White and Jules De Martino, more commonly known as The Ting Tings, is catchy, poppy and fun but somehow leaves their listeners feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled and kind of annoyed to be frank. For a duo that had such great success on their debut album on account of their unique individuality and the freshness it brought to the music scene at the time, their talent appears to have been seriously misplaced on their new record Super Critical.
While they still loosely maintain some of their musical identity, overall the whole record feels a bit aimless. The majority of the tracks feel like ideas that haven’t really been kneaded enough to win them the dough they so well deserve and whilst it is commonly accepted that sophomore albums can be tricky to navigate, especially in the wake of a successful debut record, The Ting Tings can’t be forgiven on this occasion for a second time in a row.
Without a doubt, Wrong Club is the strongest track on this record, but even still, it’s not strong enough to hold the whole thing together and it’s crippled by repetitive lyrics and lazy, poorly executed fade outs. Do It Again has a nice guitar riff that brings to mind the catchy hooks of Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, but it’s leaned upon too heavily and becomes somewhat of an irritant while they awkwardly try to harmonise around it. They sound most like themselves on Only Love but once again, the song is underdeveloped and lacks any real sense of direction.
While their first album We Started Nothing burst onto the charts in a sit-up-and-listen sort of way, Super Critical indicates that The Ting Tings don’t really know what they’re trying to say anymore. When they’re not repeating choruses or filling space with awkward vocal ad libbing, they’re killing time with long instrumental stints that don’t really seem to go anywhere as can be heard on their opening and title track Super Critical. It’s obvious that they’ve fallen into the trap of using electronic noises and effects but ultimately creating something that has no real substance. The incoherent structure dodges abruptly from one half-baked musical idea to the next with a focus more on riffs than melodies, lyrics or any sort of song structure making it feel amateurish and unfledged.
The once Grammy nominated artists have missed the mark here and it feels like a step, two skips and a giant leap away from what The Ting Tings are known and loved for. The fun, quirky and energetic sound that gave them such a unique edge in the past has somehow been lost, replaced instead with a safer, more generic mainstream offering. It feels like they are trying to be something they’re not. Attempting to tap into the electro-infused, bass heavy disco grooves of current popular artists Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams. Maybe they’ve been cajoled and manipulated by major label execs or perhaps they should have stuck to their indie pop/punk roots. Either way, it seems like a waste, given the fact that they have such a veritable appetite for fun times and party atmospheres. Somehow, their individuality and charisma doesn’t translate. Super Critical is ok to listen to when it’s on and there are a couple of tracks that will get people moving at parties, but evidently, it’s pretty forgettable when it’s off.