Katie White and Jules De Martino, aka The Ting Tings, return under a new guise in their fourth studio album, The Black Light.
Following up 2014’s disco-inspired Super Critical, the Salford duo have opted for a serious tone in this new release.
Album opener ‘Estranged’ acts as the curtain-raiser into this new dark world. Heart-beat rhythms of electro and marauding guitars build into a heavy climax, reflecting the mixed emotion of becoming estranged with someone. This song hangs heavy with emotion, a real driving force to show the world what this new direction is all about.
The heavy bassline and cutting riff in ‘Basement’ is The Ting Tings sounding like The Ting Tings, all before a drum & bass style drumbeat is poured all over it. This tune has an intimidating energy, and brings back White’s famed spitting of lyrics back under focus.
‘A&E’ is another track on this piece that grows its layers as the song develops. It’s a pop song with a welcomed smoothness to it but it does not match-up well with the rest of the songs that find a home in the shadows.
With ‘Blacklight’, the synth sound continues into a deeper and mysterious rendition of the band. Think of them dressed in black and surrounded by strobes. The mid-section of the song is broken up by a trance inspired bridge – this is where the album’s shortcomings can be found.
Whilst the benefits of being experimental and developing a sound are clear, there are plenty of risks. It is hard to gather whether this new sound has elevated The Ting Tings or taken away from what they had. ‘Earthquake’ is a song with much promise but the electro influence again drowns rather than compliments the intentions of this new sound.
The way to approach this album may be to view it as the creation of an entirely new artist. Forget what has been before and take this as something fresh on the scene.
‘Fine & Dandy’ is the perfect song to do this. A slow burning and moody atmosphere is created with fading backing vocals, pulsating drums and guitars that fade into the distance. This, no doubt, is the version of themselves they were looking to unearth: a wall of sound that makes the listener stand still.
‘Word For This’ and ‘Good Grief’ close the record, both with their own brilliant energies. With the latter being the latest addition to their live sets, that’ll have the crowd bouncing and chanting along.
Having The Ting Tings back feels like welcoming an old friend back into your life. Whilst it is great to see them, it will definitely take some time to figure out how they have changed.
Words: Luke Scanlan