If there's a more immediately catchy single than "That's Not My Name" released this year, it will have to be recorded with Velcro instruments on a disc made of glue. It's one of the more inevitable chart-toppers of recent times, though it ha s taken virtually a year to realise this destiny, having been originally issued last May on a tiny indie.
Chippy but charming, the song's combination of choppy drumbeat and playground chant recalls the bratty appeal of Billie Piper's "Because We Want To" and the entire output of sulky girl duo Shampoo, but the precisely-measured expression of self-righteous individuality in Katie White's delivery, with her personality occluded by as few instrumental flourishes as possible, renders it a more appealing singalong than either. And a more subtly effected one, too: it's only towards the end that you realise just how much instrumental colour has been sketched in.
That's typical of most of the nine tracks that comprise We Started Nothing, with similarly sassy songs like "Great DJ" and "Fruit Machine" lashing clipped rhythm guitar to stomp-beat drums to create a punchy momentum behind which White and Jules De Martino can operate their sly musical levers like the Wizard of Oz, layering counterpoint guitar motifs in Franz Ferdinand style, adding a gentle stippling of marimba here, a New Order-ish lead bassline there, or simply essaying joyously tipsy synthesiser breaks.
The results can lead in quirky, unexpected directions: the smart punk-disco groove of "Shut Up And Let Me Go" brings to mind INXS, while the title track, with its relentless guitar riff punctuated by loose, rolling horns that don't seem to know whether to hang around or not, sounds like X-Ray Spex trying on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for size. But wherever they go, the duo sustain much the same tone and mood, the sole exception being the nu-cabaret curiosity "Traffic Light".
Lyrically, virtually the whole album relies on an extension of the smart, snotty personality White presents on "That's Not My Name", whether exulting in a suitor's ill-directed largesse in "Fruit Machine" ("You keep playing me like a fruit-machine/ Overstretched your generosity"), or asserting her freedom on "Shut Up And Let Me Go" by claiming "I'm not containable – this stand-off is not sustainable". Best of all, perhaps, is the declaration in the itchy "We Walk" of their revolutionary intentions: "Smash the rest up, burn it down/ Put us in a corner, 'cos we're into ideas".
Pick of the album:'That's Not My Name', 'We Walk', 'We Started Nothing', 'Be the One', 'Shut Up and Let Me Go'Reuse content