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N*E*R*D - Seeing Sounds

N*E*R*D, Seeing Sounds

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

BY THEIR own admission, N*E*R*D don’t conform to any one particular genre. It’s helped their day job alter-egoes The Neptunes – aka Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo – become producers and songwriters for countless artists.

As N*E*R*D – and with third member Shae Haley – they live to drop cool dance-friendly records that straddle the boundaries of hip-hop, R’n‘B, urban groove, rock and anything else they may wish to shake a stick at.

But while this non-conformity certainly enables them to create a distinct sound, it doesn’t always make for a coherent, successful listen. Seeing Sounds, their follow-up to 2004’s platinum selling Fly Or Die, and their third album in total, is an OK listen but it doesn’t really blaze a genre-defining trail. Newcomers may even find themselves wondering why the names Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugh are quite so revered.

Taken as an easy listening guilty pleasure, Seeing Sounds does boast some good moments. Album opener Time For Some Action wraps some no-nonsense beats around a funky bassline and gets the party started in suitably super-cool fashion.

While lead single Everyone Nose – aka “All The Girls Standing In Line For The Bathroom” – is driven by a thundering bass and some deep, drum heavy rhythm and brass that cuts a funky strut across the dancefloor. It’s fun, infectious and frivolous.

They throw in some rock riffs on Windows, which benefits from some chant-along style vocal hollering in the background and the type of chorus that Lenny Kravitz might be proud to drop.

But while the album certainly begins brightly, Anti Matter brings it down a notch with its aggressive lyrics, girl attitude rappin’ from Danielle Patterson, and repetitive loops.

Spaz, too, fails to deliver on the initial promise offered by its opening guitar samples, flirting unsuccessfully with a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm and Indian influences.

But the first-person account of having a female stalker that is Yeah You offers some nice ’70s influenced soul-jazz, while Sooner Or Later is a belting pop song that harks back to the ’60s and is delivered in a smooth, easygoing falsetto. It’s a firm highlight and certain to be a future single.

Happy, too, seems to lift from the ’70s rock of bands like Cream and is as bright and lively as its name suggests, while Love Bomb opens as a piano ballad, before then dropping an exciting back-beat at about the minute mark that lifts it out of the run-of-the-mill to become another album favourite.

Laugh About It, meanwhile, draws things to a close on a generally upbeat tempo with guitars bouncing well of the beats and vocals.

But for all their endeavour and genre mixing, there’s nothing that really, really exhilarates. Coming from an outfit that boasts as big a rep as The Neptunes, you may have been expecting more.

Download picks: Time For Some Action, Everyone Nose, Yeah You, Love Bomb, Sooner Or Later, Happy

Track listing:

  1. Intro / Time For Some Action
  2. Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)
  3. Windows
  4. Anti Matter
  5. Spaz
  6. Yeah You
  7. Sooner or Later
  8. Happy
  9. Kill Joy
  10. Love Bomb
  11. You Know What
  12. Laugh About It
  13. Lazer Gun