Sounds the Same
When Pharrell Williams releases a project via the Neptunes or N*E*R*D, the collection is usually filled with sounds that are fresh and inventive. Yet 10 years after the Neptunesâ€šÃ„Ã´ signature single â€šÃ„ÃºSuperthugâ€šÃ„Ã¹ by Noreaga, N*E*R*Dâ€šÃ„Ã´s third album Seeing Sounds barely contains the ingenious work they have produced in the past decade. Despite a few exceptions–including â€šÃ„ÃºEveryone Nose,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a witty tale of cocaine rapped over handclaps and a screwed-up chorus–the albumâ€šÃ„Ã´s production is hardly innovative compared to the standards they have previously set. The only other standouts include â€šÃ„ÃºAnti Matter,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a grimy and fuzzy masterpiece that listeners can krump or mosh to, and â€šÃ„ÃºSpaz,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a caffeinated song with otherworldly beats that keeps true to its name.Instead of outstanding production, N*E*R*D seem to focus this time on creative storytelling. â€šÃ„ÃºYeah Youâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a late response to Joni Mitchellâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºYouâ€šÃ„Ã´re So Vainâ€šÃ„Ã¹ as Williams squeals at his subject over a casual drumbeat, and â€šÃ„ÃºHappyâ€šÃ„Ã¹ relishes the freedom from a relationship through a riffing guitar. More dramatically, â€šÃ„ÃºLove Bombâ€šÃ„Ã¹ pleads for love in an era of war as an orchestra of violins, cellos, and strings percolate in the background. The only true missteps are â€šÃ„ÃºLaugh About It,â€šÃ„Ã¹ an unmemorable guitar-and-drum track that ends the album, and â€šÃ„ÃºSooner or Later,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a lengthy song that would benefit from some editing. Overall, Seeing Sounds is full of clever lines and interesting subjects that are refreshing to hear, but the production could have used some of that Neptunes trademark magic.