Review Summary: Good beats and production, bad lyrics.N.E.R.D. - Seeing Sounds
Pharrell Williams and partner in crime Chad Hugo have been hip hop’s top producers for years. Since they produced for P Duffy (or whatever his name is now) on one of his big singles, “Lookin At Me”, The Neptunes have gotten jobs everywhere, from Britney Spears to Jay-Z, all the way to Synth Rock group Kenna, and since then have been waiting for critical acclaim. Despite the duo’s efforts, they have been rejected by the critics for being too simplistic and far too club oriented. Pharrell and Chad would eventually decide to raise the bar on the complexity of their productions, and would even create a side project called N.E.R.D., to bring out their true musical talent that critics have since denied. With N.E.R.D.’s new album Seeing Sounds
, Pharrell and Chad bring out the complete best of their production and musical talent to the table and make some damn incredible music, but seem to forget about the notable lyrics and vocals of those they produced for.
Production-wise, this album is cosmic and unique. The Neptunes have far stepped up their game since back in the day when they produced huge hits for the stars. The whole album pretty much shows The Neptunes gigantic improvement, from the funk hop “Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)” to the guitar driven “Laugh About It” , the production is superb. The production makes the album feel spacey, almost atmospheric even, and makes the music on the album feel top-notch even when it’s not.
Speaking of the music: it is also fairly well-done on this album. The album starts with a bang “Intro/Time For Some Action”, which starts out with some keyboard fanatics, which sounds like you entered a carnival, including a spoken word from Pharrell Williams. After that, the album really starts: “Time for some action… Time for some action…” says Pharrell, and the songs starts on a funky, 70s influenced groove. The song would soon after transition unto a synth ballad before it switches back to bass-led club music. The highlight among the band members is Chad Hugo’s booming bass, as he plays looped funky tones throughout the album on songs like “Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)” and “Yeah You”. Another talented member is Shae Hayley, and his varied drumming capabilities, from the fast and furious speed of "Spaz" to the heavier rock sounding "Happy". The only place the album fails musically is towards the end of the album, when the music starts to sound slightly repetitive, as some of the more hard rocking songs like “Anti Matter” get repeated a tad too much.
When Pharrell talked about changing himself musically, he put emphasis on music part, as his lyrics have declined by a tenfold from his solo album. On this album Pharrell is either horny or he’s super horny. You can get the picture of the lyrics if one of the songs is named “Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)” or “Intro/Time For Some Action”, and those aren’t even the worst. The worst lyrics on the album go to “Anti-Matter”, which has this little lyrical gem: “What's that on your iPod/Tell me what you listening to/Why you jumping bout 'ese b*tches/I aint hear them mention you”, and has this marvelous chorus: “You’re so anti don’t I matter" (You punk bitch)”. The lyrics on this album all completely fall flat on their faces and fail to show any emotion. Vocally, Pharrell also blunders, using the same falsetto singing and the same lower rapping voice throughout the entire album to deliver his horrific lines.
So overall, this album has it’s clear positives and negatives. The music and production are done extremely well, giving the album a spacey atmosphere for the music to shine over. Despite these huge positives, the album still falls slightly short because of Pharrell's failure to write decent lyrics or sing with inspiration, bringing the entire album down a notch. N.E.R.D. definitely show potential for ground-breaking music, but their lyrics need to dig deeper than teenage wet dreams.