You already know the story of the Neptunes, Grammy Award winning producers and songwriters Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, but the N.E.R.D. trio consists of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and longtime friend and creative wunderkind, Shae Haley. The album is a blistering mash-up of booming hip-hop beats and roller-coastering rock riffs, rumbling crunk rhythms and scintillating soul music. Whereas their first album, “In Search Of…,” was an imaginative, exploration of identities, and their second album, “Fly or Die,” sought out the range of genres and sounds that have influenced the group, “Seeing Sounds” grinds everything together, evoking a sound that is un-tethered by preconceptions and convention. It is also an album that amplifies the style and attitudes that have made Pharrell, Chad and Shae transcendent cultural icons.
“The Neptunes is what we do, but N.E.R.D. is who we are. It’s our life” says Pharrell. The three of them together combine for uninhibited explorations of sounds, emotions and truth, adhering to no agenda, subscribing to no rules. N.E.R.D. is the way they live their life, they way they see the world.
“Anti Matter” and “Spaz” – This is the hot stuff listeners have come to expect from N.E.R.D. It reminds me of the original nerds of hip-hop: A Tribe Called Quest.
“Window” – This song is softer and doesn’t sound like the guys are trying to hard. It’s natural and that makes it all the better.
“Everyone Nose” – It’s definitely nerdy and bizarre–but that combination isn’t good this go around.
“Sooner or Later” – Forgettable R&B song. The chorus isn’t bad but it’s too bad someone who can really sing wasn’t singing the song.
“Kill Joy” – Not unlike many other N.E.R.D. songs that sound amateurish.
“Laugh About It” – Another weak release. How they can kill on one song and kill another is beyond me.
“Anti Matter” and “Spaz” are the rare occasion where the band’s sheer brilliance comes to light. The rest sounds like a band reaching for songs they couldn’t give to someone else. It’s undeniable that the guys are brilliant producers but they are rarely great when making songs for themselves.