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THE TING TINGS
Sounds From Nowheresville
Sometimes you have to wonder why so many artists shoot themselves in the foot with their second album. Often it’s down to a lack of decent songs; in the Ting Tings’ case it seems to be misguided act of defiance.
Apparently the prospect of even greater commercial success alarmed Katie White and Jules De Martino so much that they erased the record-company approved follow-up to their 2million-selling debut album We Started Nothing, and made this scrappy, stroppy mess of a record instead.
Never has White sounded more shrill than in the unappealing Hang It Up, nor has their-mash-up of hip-hop, indie rock and bubblegum pop sounded more galumphing in Guggenheim. Soul Killing is a reggae number every bit as grim as its title suggests.
In Give It Back, White sings: “This could have been perfection but we had a little sense/So we started all again.” If only they’d stuck with what they’re good at – as indicated by the quirky, OMD-sounding curio Silence.
Stand Upright In A Cool Place
If it’s not too sacrilegious to say it, back in the heady days of Britpop, Dodgy were the Kinks to Blur’s Beatles and Oasis’s Stones.
Nearly two decades on, and after a dignified hiatus that came to an end when the three bandmates met up at the funeral of their friend and lighting director Andy Moore, Dodgy are back together and sporting an appropriately more mature, thoughtful sound.
The trio of Nigel Clarke, Andy Miller and Mathew Priest have turned their attention from the energetic, youthful idealism of 60s Britain to the eternally sun-dappled but somewhat rueful sounds of 70s America.
Cue plenty of beardy vocal harmonies, gently twanging, nimble guitarwork and lyrics that bring out the melancholy edge that always lurked beneath even their breeziest of songs.
The sedate pacing means that, at times, you miss the over-eager bluster of Staying Out For The Summer or Good Enough, but the band deliver their new songs with such good-natured, guileless sincerity that you can’t fail to warm to them.
And, if you’re a longtime fan, songs like the lovely Did It Have To Be This Way and Shadows will surely secure a place in your heart.
A VICTIM OF STARS
Having walked away from fame himself at the age of 24, perhaps David Sylvian could offer the Ting Tings advice on how to sustain a musical career outside the full glare of publicity.
Since leaving synth-pop group Japan at their zenith in 1982, the singer has devoted himself to working with a range of interesting musicians from rock, jazz, pop and electronica’s outer-reaches – people such as Robert Fripp, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Holger Czukay and Evan Parker. His 2003 album Blemish – with the avant garde guitarist Derek Bailey – practically abandoned melody in favour of sparse experimentation. But it’s the exception; for the most part this two-disc compilation is full of distinctive tunes, atmospherically arranged. Sylvian’s grainy, mannered vocal may not be to everyone’s taste; songs such as Forbidden Colours, Silver Moon and Blackwater, however, demand to be heard.
Being a DJ might look like an easy job - slap a record on, dance behind your booth, shout something incomprehensible – but there are only a few select DJs/producers who have managed to enjoy a career spanning three decades, and even fewer who have the creative welly to go beyond putting out the occasional dance banger and craft complete albums that enjoy a life beyond the dancefloor and the airwaves.
Rotterdam-born Ferry Corsten has enjoyed hit singles under a variety of names, including System F and Gouryella and remixed acts as diverse as The Killers, Nelly Furtado, Faithless and Duran Duran.
WKND is the seventh album Corsten’s had a hand in, and for the most part comprises the sort of dreamy, tuneful and uplifting trance for which he’s renowned, Mindful that there’s only so much inane euphoria and grandstanding epicness your average listener can take, he throws in a few other dance flavours, most successful of which is the ravey piano house of Love Will.
While offering no real surprises, and a bunch of disappointingly generic guest vocalists, it’s all impressively polished and enjoyable.