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Seeing Sounds

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Album Review

Singers and rappers looking for hits don't go to Pharrell Williams for power pop pumped full of steroids, elaborately arranged baroque pop, mosh-inducing guitar assaults, songs about women doing coke in bathrooms, or philosophical ruminations. Williams, along with fellow Neptune Chad Hugo and longtime associate Shay continue to use N.E.R.D. as an outlet for all the stray ideas that leave sales and airplay considerations in the dust. But it's not as if what they have produced as a trio has been inaccessible, and that goes for their third album, Seeing Sounds, as well. In Search Of... went gold, despite being re-recorded into an inferior band-driven version of the synth-and-drum-machine-heavy original (released outside the U.S. in 2001), while the ambitious and occasionally downright bizarre Fly or Die apparently moved roughly 100,000 fewer units. Those numbers aren't bad, but it was apparent that the average Neptunes fan was thrown (or merely not won over) by the stylistic shifts and seemingly out of character lyrical concepts. Seeing Sounds nonetheless goes down the same route as the previous N.E.R.D. album, and there aren't any crossover feature spots, à la the Madden brothers on "Jump," to push it. The only other changes are that Williams gets three quarters of the songwriting credits alone, whereas Fly or Die was Hugo/Williams all the way, and Shay is put to a little more use. Once again, it is evident that they put all of themselves into the material, from the left of center concepts to arrangements with unpredictable shifts. The piano-led "Sooner or Later" switches back and forth from verses akin to David Bowie's "Changes" and a crashing chorus that is nearly bombastic, incorporating a needling guitar solo, while "Love Bomb" is similarly ambitious, using a similar build and release setup while sounding much different. Despite all the weight, those songs still have a way of seeming as easy and carefree as the moments when N.E.R.D. are simply bashing away (sometimes over agitated drum'n'bass), blowing off steam, and talking ridiculous nonsense. Whether taken as a diversion of throwaway fun or a deeper (or peculiar) look into what makes these men tick, the album succeeds. [This edition included a bonus track version of "Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)."]

Customer Reviews

Pharrell knows the vision few people do.

NERD is amazing. Undescribale. The album is perfect. It might not be on main stream radio because lil wayne marketing has over-powered NERD but don't sleep on them, please don't.

Why Is It Impossible...

for NERD to get any respect. NERD is no more than The Neptunes, the production duo responsible for close to 50 percent of the pop hits of the past decade. Pharrell and Chad Hugo are immensly talented and are so creative, yet their work goes largely unnoticed. Their previous albums have been excellent, but have received mostly critical acclaim. There is something about NERD that just doesn't attract the common music fan. I goes they're just too creative and their music goes over the heads of the common person. Seeing Sounds, their newest release is another very good album. It combines many different genres and simply cannot be labeled. Some of NERD's greatest work comes on their rock tracks. Spaz and Windows are examples of some of NERD's best rock songs. Everyone Nose is so creative and hilarious, and yet the commercial mass mostly isn't aware of it. Oh well, don't bother with these people any more. Just appreciate NERD's excellence for what it is- genius. I feel comfortable saying that Pharrell is probably the most diversly talented musician in the world. For true NERD fans, you know what you're getting in Seeing Sounds. It's all anyone could hope for.

Best Album Yet!

N.E.R.D. has done it again! Just finished listening, and this is easily their best album yet. Keep up the great work guys!


Formed: Virginia

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The acronym N.E.R.D. stands for "No One Ever Really Dies," but childhood friends Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams, and Shay most certainly used the group to proudly emphasize the nerdier aspects of their musical personalities. Before this side project took shape, Hugo and Williams -- as the Neptunes -- had established themselves as giants in the field of pop production, whether they were working with hardcore rappers, smooth crooners, or teen pop groups. Although their faces were known to many due to...
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