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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.

Customer Reviews

I was Hurt, Stunned, Astounded, Amazed, Dazed, and Confused

Truthfully, I began to worry about the strength when I first heard the "Everyone Nose" single. I thought N*E*R*D (Notice the aterisks, and not the periods) was gonna go back to their "She Likes To Move" days, and only have one standout track with great production, while the rest of their tracks would suffer from poor production and an overall *rushed* feeling to the rest of the content. I'm glad to see that I wasn't right in that assumption, as there are a few stand out tracks that are remarkable when compared to the rest of the album. (I compare them to the album, because comparing their music to mainstream just isn't fair.) Overall, the album is a great addition to any collection, and I hope that "Seeing Sounds" isn't as overlooked as their two earlier (master)pieces. A few of the standout tracks for me are Everyone Nose, Anti-Matter, Spaz, Sooner or Later (Reminds me of Wonderful Place,) and You Know What.


if u a nerd fan this definantly is the cd for you

i think this cd is a classic.exactly what the music marketplace needs

right now...rock and alternative needs help,hip hop needs a transfusion,and pharrell,chad and shay have the the antidote.i've always liked pharrell and the neptunes,its clear their influences are all over the place....prince,the beatles,the 80's synth bands,jazz and hip-hop,w/a dash of r&b thrown in....this release their best since,in search of which was revolutionary,is an up date to it and musically never sounded better,everyone nose,is a rocky-funky banger thats franetic and gets anybody moving,spaz is a droney track ,with a cool rock feedback infused underbelly which is just mesmerizing,the intro/time for some action makes me feel like i'm back in the 80's chilling with pharrell on a hot summer day on the block.he's really good at storytelling,and seeing the irony in life and using pop culture metaphors.i like every track on this disc so i won't break them all down.notables are the rock inflected happy,w/a great guitar solo.anti matter,great hip-hop/rock fusion track...w/a little trent reznor under the know what is a nice r and b track....neptunes style.the political lovebomb has a a great message.yeah you,a jazzy breezy cut doesn't cd is tight.pick it they give more gifts like this to a world that really needs it. i love the cd cover.its art on the outside to match the art on the this its a no brainer.


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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