Special to The S.F. Examiner When alt-pop duo The Ting Tings broke out of Manchester in 2008 with the delightful Grammy-nominated debut “We Started Nothing” – and hit singles “That’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go” – it was a splash of effervescence on flat charts.
But by 2012, when drummer-instrumentalist Jules De Martino and guitarist-vocalist Katie White released their scrapped-then-restarted followup “Sounds From Nowheresville,” the fizz was gone, and the album bombed.
“It was quite a difficult time for us, so we had to go somewhere and collect our thoughts,” says White.
The pair decamped to Ibiza, where they resided for more than a year and a half and met Duran Duran founder Andy Taylor, who agreed to produce them.
They’ve recaptured lightning in a bottle with “Super Critical,” their bubbly third confection, which they’re promoting on tour in The City this week. Though the album feels like a late-1970s disco barnstormer from R&B legend Chic, there’s also a graveness in the grooves. Songs such as “Wrong Club,” “Do It Again” and the title cut address what the band went through on its old imprint Columbia in frank detail.
Trying to conjure up “Nowheresville,” White says, “We were very unhappy and felt very cornered.” She admits that while they couldn’t blame the label for wanting them to make another album that was as successful as their first, they didn’t want to do the same thing again: “The writing process was really difficult on a major label. We can’t work with that pressure, we’re not cut out for it,” she says.
Having recorded in Paris and Berlin before, the band knew that disappearing into an exotic location helped spark its creativity.
“We went to Ibiza because Spain is famous for its dance music and clubs, and we were expecting to be influenced by dance music,” says White, who went clubbing to study how top DJs brought crowds to a boil during the bustling summer scene.
But staying through Ibiza’s deserted winter, twice, they began romanticizing 1970s New York hangouts like CBGBs and Studio 54. “Ironically, we ended up making an album that sounded nothing like Ibiza,” White says .
Another ingredient made the “Super Critical” sessions so loose. “We smoked a lot of weed while making this album,” White says with a giggle. “I actually think it helped us, because we finally stopped overthinking things. The pressure was off, and we could write again.”
IF YOU GO
The Ting Tings
Where: Popscene, Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Jan. 23
Tickets: $18 to $20 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com