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N.E.R.D. – Seeing Sounds

Hip-hop mastermind producers Neptunes’ derivative project N.E.R.D have taken four years to release their third album. That’s a lot of downtime, and Seeing Sounds certainly shows some of the pay-off; but only some.

The latest drop starts out interesting with “Time For Some Action,” introduced by a rambling monologue about riding bikes during the 80’s heat-waves and having hallucinations (“seeing sounds”) in the shower—which is apparently the inspiration for the album (or at least, its title). At first it’s a kinda sexy story—until you realize you’re considering a 30-year old man… when he was in his early teens.

From the 80’s up to the modern era, “Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)” is a comedic critique of the party scene about chicks doing blow when they should be chilling out enjoying life under the stars; realizing the majestic reality of the universe. It’s BY FAR the best track on the album.

And then…

“Windows” takes us back to creepy-land with a track about being a peeping tom, and in the song he’s considering the possible depth of a relationship he could have while he clandestinely stares at a woman as she sheds her clothes.

“Anti Matter” proves that these folks are better at the production game than the rap game; but their lyrical oddity is what makes them rip when they do it right.

Unfortunately, after the first three tracks, this album just deflates slowly, not unlike the air mattress I slept on when I saw them play last March at the SXSW fest in Texas.

Segue to Austin…

The boys did a PSA at SXSW for Rock The Vote, encouraging folks to get out there and make a difference. You can check it out here:

Pharell doesn’t specify what he speaks for politically–which I guess could be admirable–but he also doesn’t speak to what a fucked-up state the world is in. I expected him to be more specific about his values. It feels more like a forced act—not unlike when Lou Reed HAD to do a PSA against drug use when he got busted for possession back in the 90’s.

I guess it gives me the same feeling as the last half of this album, which is mostly “Blah-blah-blah…” That being said, I recommend buying just the good tracks (such as “Everyone Nose”) from iTunes as opposed to the entire album.

On a positive note, it’s cool that the N-E-R-D boys encourage you to get off your ass and vote. I mean; how often do you have to walk into a place and fill out a form in exchange for some free cookies? (I don’t know what it’s like in your precinct, but the free cookies in mine are DEE-LICIOUS.) And while you’re munching down, get ready for the most important election in centuries.


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