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Seeing Sounds
(Interscope : 2008)
Posted on 06/09/2008
N*E*R*D has always been a slightly unfulfilling endeavor for Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley. While their Neptunes work was always a bit robotic and poppy, N*E*R*D’s goal to be a bit more organic, lush, and rock-n-roll was hampered by over-the-top sexuality on 2002’s In Search Of… and inconsistency on 2004’s Fly or Die. Seemingly aware of this, the trio introduced the N*E*R*D concept to jazz, drum and bass, and orchestration, resulting in Seeing Sounds being their strongest album yet.

On the surface, “Everyone Nose” is a nonsensical club banger. But the mix of clever lyricism (a cautionary tale about cocaine-abusing girls in the club that will probably go over the heads of the intended audience) with old school hip-hop upright bass, cymbal-crashing madness, funky horns, and an out-of-nowhere piano bridge makes “Everyone Nose” the most interesting single Pharrell and Chad have cooked up yet. “Yeah You” is similarly jazzy, a coffee shop ballad finding Pharrell and Shay disgruntled about a former girlfriend, with a chorus punctuated by a dope saxophone melody.

Some of the songs are a dynamic mess, and that’s a good thing. “Sooner or Later” starts as a piano ballad with Pharrell crooning his angst away. By the time the song approaches the seven minute mark, though, it has all but transformed into another song, with pounding cymbal crashes and a seemingly never-ending guitar solo.

Perhaps the best songs are the ones that mix all of their seemingly distinct influences together. Both “Spaz” and “Anti-Matter” manage to squeeze in hip-hop breakbeats, doubletime drum and bass, Neptunes-standard synthesizers, mosh-pit inducing guitar melodies, and call-and-response. More than any other N*E*R*D album, Seeing Sounds truly bridges the many styles in a manner that sounds neither forced nor unappealing.

- Adrian Ruhi
Comments (16)add comment
R3P0MAN: ...
This is a dope album...but I feel that "Fly or Die" was a bit more polished and concistant than this one. But I am feeling this album!

August 18, 2008 - 08:09:50 AM
uNCovered 3rd: ...
I slept on these cats for way too long; after hearing this complete album in its entirety, I was blown away!

"Sooner or Later" is the epitome of a great song !

July 13, 2008 - 02:16:10 PM
Slate Blue: ...
Yeah, I heard Ming was going to be on there next album as well. I think his website is Philly's back!

June 18, 2008 - 01:24:13 PM
beast: ...
i developed a love for this album in stages.
Stage 1. The first listen conditioned my ears to the new sounds coming from my speakers.
Stage 2. I soaked in each song from beginning to end. The true gems are found when you listen to the second 8 bars of the verse and the bridges. sometimes the intro's to the songs were a little off setting. I've since gotten over that as I know that the pay-off is only a few seconds away.
Stage 3. I began to concentrate on the lyrics. matching the songs titles up with the lyrical content helped me close the loop on this album and i've probably listened to it 2 times a day since I bought it.

Great album in my opinion. i will now create a play list with the three albums and press the shuffle button

June 16, 2008 - 02:41:35 PM
m..c..: ...
they should have put "laser gun" on the north american release... might have to order the japan version off ebay or something

June 13, 2008 - 08:35:38 PM
egalli: ...
"laser gun carrying" is a sweet track.
only heard one other one that i didn't like as much.
looking forward to hearing the album.

June 13, 2008 - 12:16:59 AM
rockingOUTbla: ...
agreed.... the album is there best presentation to date. i think we all know there is a lot more to come.

June 12, 2008 - 08:41:59 PM
hop: ...
i def agree this is their best LP to date. its not often these days you listen to an album and are surprised by every song on it. pharrell always brings it and this cd really shows off his diversity. 'you know what' is my fav on the cd (for now at least) and if you haven't heard it yet check out the b-side, My Drive Thru, with Santogold & Julian (singer from The Strokes) here

June 12, 2008 - 08:37:16 PM
Tatiana Morgan: ...
I heard that they might be teaming up with Philly artist Aaron Mingo for their next album... Does anyone know if that true?

June 12, 2008 - 02:12:27 PM
iGotOnMyBackpack79: ...
"You Know What" is one of the best N*E*R*D songs ever. To me IN SEARCH OF... > FLY OR DIE >< SEEING SOUNDS

June 12, 2008 - 11:08:52 AM
Big Willy Style....AKA Baby New Year: ...
I Love This Album.........i think Anti-Matter Is the best song on it.........i'd give it 9 out of 10.......Although it took me a couple listens to get into it i now see its real value.......This Is Definetly My Favorite N.E.R.D CD TO Date

June 11, 2008 - 10:07:42 PM
YBP Guide: ...
Agreed. Takes a couple of listens to forcefully nod your head, but all in all in a good look.

I think the hidden meanings in the lyrics and choruses are what make it worth listening to over and over again.

The jazz riffs are unexpected, but great color flares. It's an almost A- in my book as well.

June 10, 2008 - 03:34:18 PM
pooooo: ...
def n.e.r.d.'s best, by far, fly or die too inconsistant(it featured dude from good charlotte) in search of was good, but too over the top at times review was on point, couldn't have said it better!

June 10, 2008 - 12:17:52 PM
JTang: ...
You have good stuff to say about the album and I agree. I don't like OKP's rating system. It doesn't do good albums like this one any justice.

June 10, 2008 - 01:40:18 AM
InkSpot2: ...
I do like the review apart from one thing; Fly or Die is actually the best of the threee. It was easily a top five album in 04. It achieves the purpose of N.E.R.D. a lot better than the other two. It has a lot of lush sing-alongs that make it an easy play any day. I also love the rock version of In Search Of....., but Fly Or Die is the best of threee great albums. You can't go wrong with either album. Nice review by the way.

June 09, 2008 - 07:12:26 PM
TheSecondComing: ...
Nice review man.

Yeah I'd say the album is a 4.5/5.


June 09, 2008 - 03:35:29 PM

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