Depicted as a pair of zombies on the cover of their sophomore album, Katie White and Jules De Martino almost seem to be expecting that Sounds From Nowheresville (Columbia) would be critically received with all the savage gusto of a genuine visit from the living dead. The follow-up to the Ting Tings' infectious, hook-riddled 2008 debut, We Started Nothing, Nowheresville has been widely trashed as derivative and inept with a vacuous core largely devoid of hooks, melody, and lyrical sense. In other words, it would seem, nowheresville. Cue the conspiracy theorists, who note that the Tings apparently scrapped an essentially finished Nothing sequel because it relied on the same hit-oriented formula, or maybe strayed too far from it. Evidence may be in the lyrics to Nowhereville's "Hang It Up": "This is all about starting out again/Same old, same old/Never stay the same." In fact, the new album borrows from everywhere: new wave, dance pop, reggae, punkish rock, rap. Hooks may be slippery and elusive, but do lurk about, and despite the vitriol, there are decent moments: the undeniable groove of "Give It Back," "Soul Killing" minus the invasive squeak, the moody "Silence." Meanwhile, White still treads a fine line between pouty intrigue and utter annoyance, sometimes in the same song ("Guggenheim"). But the nagging questions persist: whether it's cynically contrived, perversely unlikeable, ironic, self-sabotage, good, bad, or Nothing after all. 18+.
Mon., April 2, 7:30 p.m., 2012