Review: N.E.R.D., Seeing Sounds

The album hop-scotches between various genres but without any of the freshness or spontaneity of In Search Of…

N.E.R.D., Seeing SoundsBack in high school, I knew a girl who saw musical notes as colors in her mind. Scientists call this neurological phenomenon “synesthesia,” where one sensation involuntarily stimulates a completely different one. It’s this phenomenon that inspired N.E.R.D.’s third album, Seeing Sounds, the idea of which was to create a record with their visual live act in mind. The problem, then, is that the album hop-scotches between various genres (old-school hip-hop, rock n’ roll, big-ballad pop/rock, new wave, disco) but without any of the freshness or spontaneity that made the trio’s debut, In Search Of…, such a happy, multi-sensory accident. Pharrell Williams’s second-rate falsetto leaves much to be desired, per usual, and Chad Hugo’s out-there schematics and retro sounds are few and far between. To be fair, there aren’t any real clunkers to be found on Seeing Sounds and lead single “Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in Line for the Bathroom)” and album closer “Laugh About It” are perfectly serviceable Neptunes tracks, but only two tunes, “Spaz” (with its tight drum n’ bass rhythm track, King-Kong-sized guitar licks and Beastie Boys-style rhymes) and “You Know What” (with its disco beat and Wham!-esque hook), are very visionary.

 Label: Interscope  Release Date: June 10, 2008  Buy: Amazon

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

M.I.A. (Brooklyn, NY – June 6, 2008)

Next Story

Review: Martha Wainwright, I Know You’re Married but I’ve Got Feelings Too