The Ting Tings’ mainstream success peaked long ago with their mega-selling debut ‘We Started Nothing’, which threw boring to the wind and incited infectious pop mania left, right and centre. That hasn’t stopped the Manc duo plugging away on three other albums in the past decade, but where its predecessors ‘Sounds From Nowheresville’ and ‘Super Critical’ made successful headway in grunge and disco territory, 'The Black Light'’s sparsely furnished take on drum and bass is a tragic misfire.
Opener ‘Estranged’ starts low-key with Katie White’s moody vocal over a lone guitar before building to a rocky crescendo. Like much of the record, its heavy synth elements feel stale and out-dated, and blot out glimmers of a potentially brilliant guitar-oriented effort; the first seconds of ‘Basement’ set up a scuzzy indie number, only to diffuse into uninspired lyrics (“we drink our tea in the basement”… er, okay) and bass wubs that would empty a dance floor, not fill it.
In short, the album feels unfinished. Four years after ‘Super Critical’, an exuberant retro experience that glimmered with colour, is this it? The uplifting ‘A&E’ has single potential, ‘Earthquake’ skulks coolly too over a heady drum track, but both songs feel like drafts, demo versions yet to be fleshed out properly. The Ting Tings are at their best when they’re vibrant, free and breezy. Intended as a minimalist dance effort, 'The Black Light' mostly comes across as muted and half-arsed. Bring back the light-up skipping ropes and the drums, the drums, the drums, Ting Tings, then we’ll talk.